Science a world of its own
Science, what does this word mean when you’re a teacher or more importantly learning to be a teacher. Is it a dirty word? Or Just unfamiliar! Are we scared or Just unsure how to teach it? I will be looking at these thinking by current pre service teachers and graduate teachers. How do we gain confidence, belief and a good attitude towards teaching science in schools? Is it really that hard and daunting to teach 5 year olds and then again to 12 year olds. Is there any difference?
Is there a way to help in making science a subject that is as important to a pre service teacher s Health & Physical Education or Art? “Science in Australian primary school is thus in a state of crisis” (Department of Employment & Training, 1989). Attitude towards teaching science at school is a major problem. Previous research has shown that elementary education majors often dislike science and lack confidence in their ability to teach it. This is an important problem because students who hold these attitudes are likely to avoid teaching science, or teach it poorly, when they become teachers.
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It is therefore necessary to identify pre service elementary teachers who hold negative attitudes towards science, and attempt to convert these attitudes to positive before they become teachers. (David H. Palmer, 2001). Why is our attitude so dish-Jointed when it comes to science and to some extent mathematics too? Personally I can’t remember much about doing science in primary school as it was too long ago. I feel that it was casual and fun but what I do remember doing was some exciting stuff in and around the school boundaries.
Finding bugs, doing experiments and making erupting volcano’s in year 6. But high school to me it started to be boring, not fun and an attitude “why do I have to go to Physics and Chemistry? Over the last two decades, a considerable amount of research attention has focused on the science attitudes of pre service elementary teachers. It has been found that many of them hold negative attitudes which appear to have arisen from their past experiences in science, particularly at secondary level (Babel & Smith, 1994; Unloading & Wallace, 1996; Scamp, 1991; Westerners, 1982).
The only good thing about science was Chemistry when you could play with chemicals and the Bunsen burners and melt things. I believe most pre service teachers think of this time in High School and make a Judgment. Within 3 seeks my attitude has started to change. With what I have seen and learnt, I am optimistic, a little excited on teaching science at primary school. What can change the attitude of the pre service teachers? There were three main reasons: personal attributes of the tutor, specific teaching strategies, and external validation.
It was proposed that many of the individual factors were effective because they represented either “performance accomplishments” or “vicarious experience” as defined by Bandeau (Psychological Review, 84, 1977, 191-215). Do we as pre service teachers have enough knowledge and belief about science to infidelity teach it at school? Teaching practices are often considered as one of the reasons why American students are not currently demonstrating top achievement in science and mathematics. Both theory and common sense suggest that teachers ‘knowledge of subject matter necessarily influences their classroom practices.
Linkages between teachers’ personal knowledge, beliefs, and instructional activity have proven elusive despite the considerable level of concern expressed regarding low levels of mathematics and science knowledge possessed by pre and in service elementary teachers Leningrad, Putnam, Stein, & Baxter, 1991). Elementary teachers have been found to possess generally low level conceptual and factual knowledge as well as inadequate skills in the content area of science (Victor, 1962; Blower & Howe, 1969; Winner, 1993).
General agreement exists that lack of such a background in science knowledge significantly contributes to hesitancy and possible inability to deliver effective science instruction in classroom settings. Indeed, previous research in this area found that teachers gravitate toward performing those tasks in which they feel confident and competent (Cunningham & Blankness’s. 979; Hone. 1976). Do I feel I have that belief and knowledge? I certainly don’t have a full knowledge of what I need to be a competent science teacher, but be assured I’m excited to teach and be taught over the next couple of years.
I certainly believe I can teach but gaining more knowledge would be an advantage. Maybe if science and mathematics subjects are more prevalent in undergraduate courses, than what it currently is around the country, it may be a subject that teachers will like to teach. As there continues to be a need for pre service teachers to bolster their understanding in these areas, this might well indicate a need for collaborative efforts between departments of science and mathematics and departments of education in devising ways in which higher education might better serve the needs of these entry- level teachers.
Are we being taught enough in undergraduate teaching courses in the science subjects? Is more needed to alleviate the growing concern in this matter. A lot of studies have been conducted throughout the world, especially in western society. Not only pre service and graduate teachers had trouble teaching science but so did hose teaching for example grade 6. From what I have read many teachers believe that they need a more clear direction, a lack of materials and more information on suitable topics to be taught is needed. The general feeling was that teaching science involved considerable effort.
This effort involved preparing a suitable topic and organizing the materials necessary to teach that topic. As well there seemed to be a lack of direction in the area of science. The feeling was that many teachers do not consider science to be a high priority and hence were not willing to expend energy in organizing for it. A comparison was made between teaching science and social studies. The teachers suggested social studies was much easier to teach because the curriculum was well organized, the information was all together in one book and there were few materials needed.
Science on the other hand required gathering ideas from a variety of books as well as a lot of materials for activities. Many of these materials were consumable and had to be replaced each year. One teacher suggested that ;there are some teachers who love science and are willing to put in the effort but the majority do not. There is no doubt that the use of a quality traduced program with supporting equipment and appropriate in servicing can help the primary teacher initiate worthwhile, sequenced science lessons on a regular basis.
A study of 139 pre service teachers from the University college of Central Queensland by Ken Appleton concluded that there are general points about teaching science discipline knowledge in pre service and, by extrapolation, in service courses which can be learned from this study. Firstly, science discipline knowledge needs to be taught in a way which will give students a more positive self -image of themselves as teachers of science and technology.
Teaching discipline knowledge without taking this goal into consideration may do more harm than good: ; students’ self – perceptions may well remain largely negative, and may even become more negative. Secondly, the teaching strategies which have proved effective in generating positive changes in self-perception tend to be time consuming, and need to be conducted in small group settings rather than large lectures. This means that the amount of content “covered” would usually be less than; that delivered in large group lectures.
That is, what is gained in students’ self-confidence, is paid for by covering less intent. The small group teaching also means more expensive teaching compared to traditional lecture and laboratory methods. Thirdly, once students’ self-confidence is improved, many could be expected to access science and technology content for themselves through individual research and/or normal science courses-? while not proven, this is a reasonable hypothesis given the changes documented in this study and others (Kirkwood, Berlin & Hardy, 1989).
Ideally, a pre service course should there- fore contain at least two compulsory science and technology education units: he first based on strategies such as those outlined here, and the second a more specific focus on discipline knowledge. However, restrictions on the number of compulsory science education units able to be included in a pre-service course may make independent study the only viable means for many students to gain further science and technology discipline knowledge.
I personally know that when I first ventured into being a teacher 7 years ago, I studied to be a secondary PEE teacher. It was very science based, because you specialize in these subjects to teach at secondary. But primary school teaching is different you need a range of knowledge in al teaching disciplines from art, religion, JOSE, English, mathematics, IT and science to name a few. You never know when you need that knowledge even if you’re a specialist teacher.
If there is still such a lack of concern for competency in teaching science in primary education, maybe there should be extra training for graduate teachers either through a tertiary institution or during their first years as a teacher or even in the summer before they start teaching at a school and let’s not forget about the current teachers either. Studies have shown that they still need updated knowledge in science subjects. Keeping this in mind the more extra-curricular learning a teacher can get the more confident they will be to teach science.
This in turn will change their attitude and belief to teaching it and influence other pre service teachers wanting to move into the primary school teaching. Unfortunately teaching science at primary school level is still daunting to many pre service teachers. Having had bad experiences while at school themselves, this has contributed to pre service teachers not having enough practical and theory based knowledge, having little or no belief and confidence being low. Will science ever be a object that pre service teachers want to teach? Will it change over time?
It has been known that a problem exists for decades but no one seems to have the answer to alleviate the problem. Many studies, surveys have been performed and implemented without success. What will the government of Australia do to fix this problem? With the change to a national curriculum, let’s hope something will finally be done.