Investigating How Nontraditional Elementary Preservice Teachers Negotiate the Teaching of Science

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Virginia Tech

This qualitative study was designed to investigate the influences on nontraditional pre-service teachers as they negotiated the teaching of science in elementary school. Based upon a sociocultural theoretical framework with an identity-in-practice lens, these influences included beliefs about science teaching, life experiences, and the impact of the teacher preparation program. The study sample consisted of two nontraditional pre-service teachers who were student teaching in an elementary classroom. Data, collected over a five-month period, included in-depth individual interviews, classroom observations, audio recordings, and reviews of documentations. Interviews focused on the participants' beliefs relating to the teaching of science, prior experiences, and their teacher preparation program experiences relating to the teaching of science. Classroom observations provided additional insights into the classroom setting, participants' teaching strategies, and participants' interactions with the students and cooperating teacher. A whole-text analysis of the interview transcripts, observational field notes, audio recordings, and documents generated eight major categories: beliefs about science teaching, role of family, teaching science int he classroom, teacher identity, non-teacher identity, relationships with others, discourse of classroom teaching, and discourses of teachers. The following significant findings emerged from the data: (a) the identity of nontraditional student teachers as science teachers related to early life experiences in science classes; (b) the identity of nontraditional student teachers as science teachers was influenced by their role as parents; (c) nontraditional student teachers learned strategies that supported their beliefs about inquiry learning; and (d) nontraditional student teachers valued the teach preparation program support system. The results from this qualitative study suggest that sociocultural theory with an identity-in-practice lens provides a theoretical frame work for understanding the influences that affect why nontraditional pre-service teachers select strategies to teach science in the elementary classroom.

pre-service teachers, teacher education, nontraditional, identity, science education, science-teaching strategies