Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Rural Elementary Science Teaching: Exploring the Preparation and Practices of Early Career Educators
by Stevens, Kandy Noles, Ed.D., University of South Dakota, 2020, 224; 27960396
Abstract (Summary)

For several decades, time devoted to elementary science teaching has declined. The lack of science in elementary schools impacts today's students and their young teachers. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between the pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) taught and gained through elementary science methods courses and the science teaching practices of rural Minnesota, early career elementary teachers. The novice educators indicated their perceptions of what content was taught in their methods course in a teacher education program (PCK taught) and their ability to recognize best practices (PCK gained). Science teaching practices were indicated by teachers' reports of time devoted to science instruction and of usage of research-based best practices.

In this mixed methodology investigation, educators responded to a researcher-developed survey, based on best science education pedagogical practices derived from national frameworks. Fourteen educators completed the survey and follow-up phenomenological interviews were conducted with five early-career educators. Mediation analyses were conducted to investigate the relation between PCK taught and gained and the potential influence on elementary science teaching practices, described as both instructional time devoted to science teaching and the incorporation of best practices.

There was no evidence of mediation or correlation between the novice educators' reports of PCK being taught and PCK gained. However, there was a significant positive correlation between PCK taught and the best practices teachers reported using. Open-ended survey questions and interview responses highlighted that science methods courses were perceived to provide examples of science instruction as well as boosts to early career educator confidence and competence for science teaching. Early career Minnesota educators strove to incorporate effective science teaching and to make connections to science in their students' everyday lives. The results of this research indicate potential elementary science professional development partnerships between teacher education programs and rural schools could be beneficial, thereby boosting PCK for mentor teachers and methods students placed in their courses. Future researchers should continue to address the role methods courses play on PCK development of rural, early career elementary educators and how this relates to how they incorporate quantity and quality science instruction.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Reins, Kevin J.
Commitee: Strouse, Gabrielle A., Bodensteiner, Lacey, Deaver, Emily
School: University of South Dakota
Department: Curriculum & Instruction
School Location: United States -- South Dakota
Source: DAI 81/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Science education, Elementary education, Teacher education
Keywords: Elementary science, Science methods, Teacher training
Publication Number: 27960396
ISBN: 9798645461737
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