Experience, intention and practice in the teaching of 5-14 primary science
This research used quantitative and qualitative research methods to examine the experience, intentions and practice of pre-service primary students in order to determine the nature of student teachers’ paradigms of science. The research identified a dissonance between the students’ aspirational rhetoric and the actuality of the experiences they provide for learners. This research framed the discourse of teaching and learning in terms of objectivist and constructivist paradigms. It was argued that the objectivist paradigm of science teaching has historically been dominant in science classrooms; however, it is the constructivist paradigm which is linked to an effective pedagogy in science education. This research examined the students’ school qualifications in science, stated confidence levels in teaching the 5-14 science curriculum and the students’ views on how best to take forward teaching and learning in primary science. The students were fond to be poorly qualified in science; however, it was shown that this has not had any adverse effect upon the pre-service students’ self-rated confidence levels in teaching primary science. Confidence indices were found to be consistently high, albeit slightly lower with respect to Physics. This research has also shown that there is a consistent pattern of increasing confidence with progression through the BEd course, and consistently low levels of confidence with respect to the PGCE students. This study identified a dissonance between the pre-service students’ experience of science and how they propose to teach science. It was shown that the pre-service students’ experience was negatively orientated, and firmly rooted within the objectivist paradigm. However, it was found that the students’ stated intentions are framed in terms of the constructivist paradigm. The research also determined that the students are confident that they possess the professional skills necessary to take forward teaching and learning in primary science.