Evolution of pre-service teachers’ attitudes towards learning science during an introductory science unit

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Primary teachers, despite their critical role in fostering student interest in science, lack confidence and have negative attitudes towards teaching science, with this trend starting during initial teacher education. Though research on attitudes towards teaching science is well established, less is known about attitudes towards learning science. In order to advance our understanding in this area, this study mapped the entry and evolution of attitudinal profiles towards learning science of 108 primary education pre-service teachers undertaking a first-year science unit. Participants completed an online survey tapping on self-determination, grade motivation, self-efficacy, difficulty, interest, anxiety and enjoyment in science before the commencement of the unit (T1) and at the end of it (T2). Clustering methods were used to group participants into homogenous attitudinal profiles at both points in time. Subsequently, daughter profile analysis was used to examine qualitative changes in final profiles respective to entry. Four distinct attitudinal profiles were identified with 47% of the participants exhibiting the least favourable profiles at the start of the science unit. Migration (T1 to T2) was more prevalent from the least to the most favourable profiles, however, it did occur in the opposite direction. Findings revealed that, though pre-service teachers increased their confidence in their ability to learn science, their self-determination decreased in all but one of the eight resulting daughter profiles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1520-1541
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


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