Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Published in School Science & Mathematics, 114:4 (April 2014), pp. 154-165; doi: 10.1111/ssm.12067


Copyright © 2014 School Science and Mathematics Association; published by Wiley Blackwell, Inc. Used by permission.


Despite historical national efforts to improve elementary science education, science instruction continues to be marginalized, varying by state. This study was designed to address the ongoing challenge of educating elementary preservice teachers (PSTs) to teach science. Elementary PSTs are one of the science education community's major links to schools and science education reform. However, they often lack a strong background in science, knowledge of effective science teaching strategies, and consequently have low confidence and self-efficacy. This investigation explored the initial learning of elementary PSTs using an interdisciplinary model of a scientific classroom discourse community during a science methods course. Findings post-methods course suggested that the PSTs gained confidence in how to teach inquiry-based elementary science and recognized inquiry-based science as an effective means for engaging student learning. Additionally, PSTs embraced the interdisciplinary model as one that benefits students' learning and effectively uses limited time in a school day.