Title

The relationship among elementary teachers' knowledge of nature of science, content background, and attitudes toward science

Date of Award

2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Science Teaching

Advisor(s)

Marvin Druger

Keywords

Elementary teachers, Content background, Attitudes toward science, Nature of science, Kit-based science program, Elementary teachers' knowledge of science

Subject Categories

Education | Science and Mathematics Education

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate elementary teachers' knowledge of nature of science as it relates to content background, and attitudes toward science in grades fourth through sixth. This study used in-depth interviews, and a questionnaire instrument entitled, "Views of Nature of Science" VNOS (D).

This qualitative and quantitative study involved 21 questionnaire respondents who are currently teaching fourth, fifth, or sixth grade in various elementary school districts within Onondaga, Cortland, and Madison, New York counties. The classrooms in this study participate in a kit-based science program. These respondents were investigated for their nature of science knowledge and science content background. Six in-depth interviews further investigated a specific sample of these 21 teachers. These interviews, in comparison with the questionnaires, looked closely at different combinations of content background, nature of science knowledge and teaching experience.

The findings from this study suggest that teacher's actual nature of science knowledge is not consistent with the beliefs that they may have about their own knowledge. These particular teachers felt that they have adequate knowledge of nature of science, while this study may suggest otherwise. The six teachers that participated in the in-depth interviews portion of this study all exhibited very positive attitudes toward science. An investigation such as this may assist in the uncovering of some basic issues that elementary teachers may face in relation to their comprehension of specific science concepts and nature of science issues, specifically using a kit-based science program. The data from this work could help us understand what obstacles, if any they find when teaching science in their classroom. Elementary teacher education programs need to pay greater attention to the nature of science as well as science content.

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