Date of this Version
Lewis, E.B., Rivero, A., Musson, A., Lu, J., and Lucas, L. (2016). Building Exemplary Teaching Practices: Following the Paths of New Science Teachers. Paperset presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST): April 14-17, 2016: Baltimore, MD.
There are few comprehensive studies of beginning science teachers that describe enacted teaching practices in terms of inquiry-based instruction, classroom discourse, assessment, and curricular choices, and explore how these factors interact with teaching self-efficacy. We conducted a 3-year, longitudinal study of four cohorts of master’s level science teacher education program graduates. We coded and analyzed 319 science lessons of new teachers from student teaching to third year post-program to describe teachers’ enacted practices and gathered annual teaching self-efficacy reports to examine teachers’ beliefs. Our analysis resulted in key findings relevant to future programmatic improvements. First, when we reviewed specific inquiry-based teaching facets we found patterns indicating areas of growth and areas of challenge. Four areas of growth included teaching for knowledge acquisition, questioning level employed, conceptual development, and content depth. These aspects of teaching science were strongly addressed during the teacher education program. Some areas of challenge for these new science teachers included: using an inquiry-based order of instruction, promoting classroom interactions, accessing students’ prior knowledge, and learner centrality in enacted curriculum. Second, we found that the number of years a teacher taught mattered when predicting overall self-efficacy, specifically for self-efficacy associated with student engagement and instructional strategies. Over time, it appears that the MAst teachers who have persisted through the induction period have maintained a positive outlook on their agency. We attribute the generally positive nature and stability of these beginning science teachers’ self-efficacy to a rigorous teacher preparation program, but recognize that teachers could benefit from ongoing professional development in inquiry-based instruction, rich discourse strategies, and formative assessment.