Exploring the beliefs and practices of five preservice secondary science teachers from recruitment through induction in a university preparation program: a longitudinal study

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2006

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This three-year longitudinal study explores the evolving beliefs and practices of five prospective secondary science teachers in a university preparation program from recruitment through their first year in the classroom. As an interpretive qualitative study, the format for data collection and analysis utilizes a case-study methodology with crosscase analysis. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews, collected artifacts, and classroom observations. There are a number of important conclusions from this study. First, the teachers’ beliefs about teaching initially shift to a contemporary focus during the program, but ultimately return to a didactic orientation by their first year in the classroom. At the same time, the teachers’ beliefs about learning remain consistently more contemporary in nature. Second, the participants believe that they practice teaching science as inquiry at a higher level than are indicated by researcher observations. Third, while participants value advanced content and educational theory coursework, they do not always see the link between these experiences and their development as science teachers. Fourth, the findings from this study reveal that internal and external contextual factors impacted, to varying degrees, the development of the science teachers. The findings from this study contribute to a deeper understanding of the development of science teachers from preservice education to the induction years, which indicates a pattern that is not linear. The findings from this study also reinforce the importance of internal and external contextual factors on the development of science teachers. Ultimately, this study is important to the field of secondary science teacher education as it depicts the complex interactions between the individual, the preparation program, and the school placements that impact the beliefs and practices of preservice and beginning teachers.

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