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Title: Building Early Career K-6 Teacher Competence and Confidence to Teach Fundamental Concepts of Electricity and Magnetism
Contributor(s): McMullen, Bruce John (author); Littledyke, Michael  (supervisor); Fletcher, Peter  (supervisor)
Conferred Date: 2012
Copyright Date: 2012
Open Access: Yes
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Abstract: Despite a recognised need for improved scientific literacy across modern society, the study of science beyond the compulsory years of schooling continues to become increasingly unpopular. Many researchers have cited reasons; among them the way science is taught in schools. Reflecting this trend is a decrease in the number of qualified science teachers in secondary schools, and an increased avoidance of teaching science in K-6 schools. That K-6 teachers generally have very little science education experience, and perceive science as a 'hard' subject to learn, and teach, has been linked to a lack of confidence to teach science, and a consequent reluctance to do so. To investigate ways to improve aspects of science teaching by K-6 teachers, this project applied a four-phase approach to develop an activity-based sequence with iterative elements. An in depth exploration of the effectiveness of the sequence, to enhance pre-service K-6 (approximately ages 5 to 12) teacher knowledge about, and confidence to teach, specific fundamental concepts of electricity and magnetism was undertaken. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with expert members of the public, each identified as having an intrinsic interest in electric and magnetic phenomena. The interviews identified elements of a fundamental understanding of electricity and magnetism desirable in students graduating from Year 6. The range of knowledge and understanding, of a cohort of pre-service K-6 teachers, about the identified concepts was measured. Adopting a social constructivist approach, small groups of participants collaborated in Predict-Observe-Explain-Share explorations of investigative, hands-on activities, integrated in a 5Es (Engage, Explore, Elaborate, Explain, Evaluate) learning cycle. At the completion of this first sequence, the participants' level of understanding was again measured to evaluate the effectiveness of the strategies and activities of the exploration. Identified improvements to the activities, and peer-interaction strategies were incorporated into the design of a refined sequence. The effectiveness of the refined sequence was measured with a subsequent second-year cohort.
Publication Type: Thesis Doctoral
Field of Research Codes: 139999 Education not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 939999 Education and Training not elsewhere classified
Rights Statement: Copyright 2012 - Bruce John McMullen
HERDC Category Description: T2 Thesis - Doctorate by Research
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