Title

Teacher research experiences, epistemology, and student attitudes toward science

Date of Completion

January 2007

Keywords

Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Teacher Training|Education, Sciences

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

This concurrent mixed methods research study examined the impact of a Teacher Research Experience (TRE) on science teacher beliefs about science, scientific research, science teaching, and student attitudes toward science. Surveys, interviews, reflective journals, and classroom observations of six teachers involved in a TRE were utilized to examine changes in beliefs as a result of participation in the TRE. Student attitudes were measured with a pre and post survey.^ An analysis of qualitative data from the teachers' interviews, journals, and pre and post TRE surveys indicated that some change occurred in their beliefs about science and scientists for all six teachers, and that teachers' beliefs about science teaching were affected in a variety of ways after participating in the TRE. The quantitative results of the study using Science Teachers' Beliefs About Science (STBAS) instrument suggest that the change from the beginning to the end of the school year, if any, was minimal. However, interviews with and observations of teachers identified valuable components of the TRE, such as the advanced resources (e.g., DVD, samples), a feeling of rejuvenation in teaching, a new perspective on science and scientific research, and first hand experiences in science.^ Results from the classroom observations using the Science Classroom Practice Record (SCPR) were mixed. Some differences may be explained, however, as relating to content taught in the pre and post classes observed or simply to inherent differences in student dynamics and behavior from class to class. There were no significant differences from pre to post TRE regarding student attitudes toward science as measured by paired samples t-tests on the modified Attitudes Toward Science (mATSI) instrument. Attitudes and beliefs are not easily changed, and change is more likely to result from direct experience and education rather than an indirect experience. Although the results are generalizable only to the participants in this study, the findings have the potential to inform other types of TRE professional development efforts of different design, duration, and location. ^