The Voyager Problem: The effect of a science laboratory course focused on clinical teaching experiences

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Science Teaching


John W. Tillotson


Preservice teachers, Self-efficacy, Science, Clinical, Laboratory course, Voyager Problem

Subject Categories



A unique biological laboratory experience was created that fused together biological content learned in a General Education introductory biology course with content pedagogy and clinical experiences. The intent of the course was to measure the participants self-efficacy levels and biological content knowledge through the use of pre- and post-test assessments and interviews. Seven freshmen pre-service elementary students were enrolled in a biology laboratory section that spent significant amounts of time learning biological content and developing age-level appropriate lessons to teach that biological content knowledge to elementary-aged children. The freshmen students were paired with senior pre-service teachers. These teams then traveled to participating K-6 elementary schools and performed a total of four Kid's College events. A Kid's College event consisted of the entire elementary school participating in three, thirty-minute science experiences with seven-minute breaks in between. This Voyager/Kid's College experience took place at four different elementary schools throughout the semester. Despite a reduced amount of biological content within the laboratory section, the Voyager Program freshmen performed as well as other education majors within the same biology lecture course. Additionally, the freshmen participant's self-efficacy and biological content knowledge were assessed at the beginning and end of the semester. The findings suggest that this method of pairing freshmen and seniors together in clinical experiences significantly increased self-efficacy and confidence in teaching biological topics and can serve as a useful model to teacher preparation programs seeking to incorporate clinical experiences into currently existing science courses.


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