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Pre-Service Elementary Teachers' Orientations Toward Teaching Science

Lisa S Fanning, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This mixed methods study identifies orientations for elementary pre-service science teachers (PSTs) enrolled in a science methods course at a Midwest urban university using categories presented by Feiman-Nemser, S., (1990). Through use of the survey Assessing Conceptual Orientations in Teacher Education Programs (Volante, L., & Earl, L., 2004) and case study analysis, baseline and changes of orientations for elementary PSTs are identified and described. Orientations are situated in the Framework of Knowledge for Teaching (Friedrichsen, P. J., Abell, S. K., Pareja, E. M., Brown, P. L., Lankford, D. M., & Volkmann, M. J., 2009). The purpose of this study is to gain understanding about orientations of elementary PSTs across the semester and describe planning and implementation of teaching strategies and actions that align to specific orientations. Survey data was gathered from participants and embedded case studies were completed with three purposefully selected participants who initially identified with Personal, Academic, and Practical orientations. Pre-service elementary teachers most often entered the course with one dominant identified orientation based on their own recollection of experiences in school. A statistically greater number of participants identified with the Personal orientation. Three case study participants all strengthened alignment to the Personal orientation. A small number of participants maintained orientations that differed from the larger group and there was an increase of participants who did not identify one dominant orientation at the end of the semester. Findings from this study indicate that Science educators need to identify orientations because experiences in methods course impact the teaching strategies and actions of PSTs. Many elementary PSTs identify with a Personal orientation and desire an atmosphere of teaching and learning that promotes relationship building and active group work. It is important to know elementary PSTs orientation to address disconnects when designing curricula and professional development opportunities. In addition, promotion of science reform initiatives can occur through purposeful focus on orientations and the teaching strategies and actions that are associated with each category. This study begins to share the story of elementary PSTs by filling a gap of missing information. It also contributes to the line of work examining orientations.

Subject Area

Elementary education|Science education|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Fanning, Lisa S, "Pre-Service Elementary Teachers' Orientations Toward Teaching Science" (2017). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI10682604.