Evolution of Pre-Service Teachers’ Attitudes towards Learning Science during an Introductory Science Unit

Year: 2018

Author: Pino-Pasternak, Deborah, Volet, Simone

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Empirical evidence worldwide indicates that primary teachers, despite their critical role in fostering student interest in science, lack confidence and have negative attitudes towards teaching science, with this trend starting during initial teacher education.Though research on attitudes towards teaching science is well established, less is known about attitudes towards learning science.In order to advance our understanding in this area, this study mapped the entry and evolution of attitudinal profiles towards learning science of a cohort of 108 primary education pre-service teachers undertaking a first-year science unit aimed at enhancing their understanding of scientific concepts and inquiry skills. Participants completed an online survey tapping on self-determination, grade motivation, self-efficacy, difficulty, interest, anxiety and enjoyment in science before the commencement of the unit (Time 1) and at the end of it (Time 2).Clustering methods were used to group participantsinto homogenous attitudinal profiles at both points in time. Subsequently, daughter profile analysis was used to examine qualitative changes in final profiles respective to entry. Four distinct attitudinal profiles were identified (Optimal, Promising, Vulnerable, and Uncomitted) with 47% of the participants exhibiting the least favourable profiles at the start of the science unit. Migration(Time 1 to Time 2) was more prevalent from the least to the most favourable profiles, however it did occur in the opposite direction. The analysis of daughter profiles revealed that, though pre-service teachers increased their confidence in their ability to learn science, their self-determination decreased in all but one of the eight resulting daughter profiles.