Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Self-Efficacy, Attitude and Science Knowledge

Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Self-Efficacy, Attitude and Science Knowledge

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study examined Turkish preservice elementary teachers' science knowledge level, attitude toward science teaching and their efficacy beliefs regarding science teaching. In addition, the contribution of science knowledge level and attitudes toward science teaching on preservice elementary teachers' efficacy beliefs was investigated. Findings indicated that participants had moderate sense of self-efficacy beliefs, attitudes and low level of science knowledge. Results also showed that science knowledge level and attitude towards science teaching each made a statistically significant contribution to the variation in participants' efficacy beliefs.

Introduction

Improving the preparation of preservice elementary teachers to science teaching has been of great concern over the past two decades. Studies revealed that teachers' understanding of science concepts, attitudes toward and beliefs regarding science teaching are strong predictors of effective science teaching in the classroom. Regarding the concepts, facts and skills concerning science, studies reported that elementary teachers possessed generally low level of knowledge (Stevens & Wenner, 1996; Wenner, 1993). This low level of background science knowledge, significantly contributed to elementary teachers' hesitancy, and possible inability to provide effective science instruction in their classrooms. Wenner (1993) reported the existence of a low level of science knowledge among preservice elementary teachers and concluded that while high school science course work appears adequate, college preparation in science content is inadequate. Elementary teachers teach all subjects and may not be equally effective in teaching all of them. It is primarily science, though, that most troubles the elementary teachers (Enochs & Riggs, 1990). Often reported is that elementary teachers avoid teaching science in the elementary school curriculum and they prefer teaching other subjects to science (Stefanich & Kelsey, 1989). Actually, Dobey and Schafer (1984) found that many elementary teachers were reluctant to teach science because they felt that they lacked knowledge of science content and processes.

Another factor beyond content knowledge that affects elementary instruction is the beliefs held by teachers toward science teaching (Lin, Gorrell, & Taylor, 2002; Milson & Mehling, 2002; Posnanski, 2002; Tosun, 2000; Zacharias, 2003). A specific teacher belief such as one's self-efficacy in teaching science is a possible contributor to behavior patterns of elementary teachers with regard to science especially in motivating them to teach science or causing avoidance of science teaching by the teachers (Cantrell, Young & Moore, 2003; Mulholland, Dorman, & Odgers, 2004; Tournaki, & Podell, 2005; Woolfolk Hoy & Spero, 2005). Teachers' sense of efficacy is a construct derived from Bandura's (1986) theory of self-efficacy in which the generalized behavior of an individual is based on two factors, (a) a belief about action and outcome and (b) a personal belief about his/her own ability to cope with a task. Tschannen-Moran and Woolfolk Hoy (2001) defined teacher efficacy as "teacher's judgment of his or her capabilities to bring about desired outcomes of student engagement and learning, even among those students who may be difficult or unmotivated" (p.783). Research on efficacy of teachers suggests that behaviors such as persistence at a task, risk taking, and use of innovations be related to degrees of efficacy (Ashton, 1984). For example, highly efficacious teachers were more likely to use open-ended, inquiry, student-directed teaching strategies, while teachers with a low sense of efficacy were more likely to use teacher-directed teaching strategies such as lecture and reading from the textbook. It has been demonstrated that students generally learn more from teachers with high self-efficacy that from those whose self-efficacy is low (Ashton, 1984). …

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