Science Attitude Change in Preservice Elementary Teachers During an Activity-Oriented Biology Course

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<ul><li><p>Science Attitude Change in Preservice Elementary TeachersDuring an Activity-Oriented Biology Course</p><p>David C. KramerDepartment of Biological Sciences</p><p>St. Cloud State UniversitySt. Cloud, Minnesota 56301</p><p>INTRODUCTIONThe science attitudes of elementary school teachers can have a major</p><p>impact on their science teaching effectiveness (1). Realizing this, somehave attempted to improve teachers attitudes through inservice scienceeducation (2), improving science cognition (3), and microteaching (4).Having demonstrated that science attitudes are not necessarily related toscience knowledge, Shrigley (5) suggested that manipulative, hands onexperiences, similar to the innovative elementary science programs,might have positive effects on the science attitudes of teachers.</p><p>In teaching such an activity-oriented undergraduate course, Biologyfor Elementary Teachers, at St. Cloud State University, the author has,among others, three major goals for students:</p><p>1. To understand life science concepts appropriate for the elementary school,2. To become familiar with methods and techniques of teaching life sciences in the</p><p>elementary school,3. To develop a favorable attitude toward science.</p><p>Evaluation of student achievement of the first two goals has been acontinuing process. However, based on student comments and writtencourse evaluations, achievement of the third goal has been assumed al-though never tested. The present study was undertaken to determine theeffect, in any, of this course on the science attitudes of preservice elemen-tary teachers.</p><p>METHODThe Shrigley Science Attitude Scale for Preservice Elementary Teach-</p><p>ers II (5, 6, 7) was administered as a pretest and posttest to 87 studentsenrolled in Biology for Elementary Teachers during the winter and springquarters of 1977. In order to reduce the effects of other courses, 36 stu-dents concurrently enrolled in other science courses were eliminated fromthe study. The remaining sample of 49 students included 25 sophomores,21 juniors, and 3 seniors.</p><p>Pretest and posttest scores were subjected to t-test analysis to deter-mine if changes occurred in the overall science attitudes of the entiregroup. Responses to groups of items dealing with science content, scienceequipment, science interest, and antipathy (aversion or dislike) were</p><p>294</p></li><li><p>Science Attitude Change in Teachers 295</p><p>similarly treated to determine in which of these areas attitude changemight have occurred. Additionally, each students pretest and posttestscores were compared to determine the number of students whose scienceattitudes were changed positively or negatively, or possibly unaffected,during the quarter they were enrolled in Biology for Elementary Teach-ers.</p><p>COURSE DESCRIPTIONBiology for Elementary Teachers is a one quarter, three credit course</p><p>designed specifically for prospective elementary teachers. The content ofthe course is consistent with the life science concepts of the innovativeelementary science programs, materials from certain elementary sciencemethods books, and other sources of elementary science lessons. Thereare no standard period-long lectures. The course is strongly activity (lab-oratory) oriented with students participating in a variety of individualand group projects. Each student also conducts an independent investi-gation of some biological phenomenon which is appropriate for the ele-mentary school and reports the results to the class. Additionally, elemen-tary science skills such as classifying, observing, recording and-interpret-ing data, measuring, and problem solving are emphasized throughout thecourse. Discussions are conducted as needed to achieve closure for indi-vidual activities, to show relationships of various projects, and to answerstudent or teacher initiated questions.</p><p>THE INSTRUMENTShrigley (5, 6, 7) developed, and later revised, this Likert-type science</p><p>attitude scale for preservice elementary teachers. The instrument consistsof 12 positive and 8 negative statements to which students respond aseither, strongly agree, agree, undecided, disagree or strongly disagree.The responses are respectively valued 5, 4, 3, 2, or 1 points for the posi-tive statements. The numerical values are reversed for the negative state-ments. No points are given if the items were omitted. Thus, the range ofpossible scores is 0-100 with higher scores indicating more positive sci-ence attitudes.The 20 attitude statements are grouped into four general categories.</p><p>Six statements are concerned with attitudes toward science content, fiveare concerned with attitudes toward science teaching, six deal with atti-tude toward handling science equipment, and three statements are con-cerned with antipathy toward science teaching. The internal consistencyreliability for the entire attitude scale is 0.90 (5).</p></li><li><p>296School Science and Mathematics</p><p>TABLE i.MEAN PRETEST AND POSTTEST SCORES</p><p>FOR EACH ATTITUDE STATEMENT</p><p>Statements Category MeanMeanPretestPosttestScoreScore</p><p>1. I day dream during science class. Ill 3.59 4.042. I would like to have chosen science as a minor in I 2.33 2.96</p><p>my education program.3. I dread science classes. I 4.10 4.594. Science equipment confuses me. II 3.57 4.065. I enjoy manipulating science equipment. II 3.43 4.086. I am afraid young students will ask me science IV 2.88 3.73</p><p>questions I cannot answer.7. In science classes, I enjoy lab periods. II 4.24 4.478. Science in my favorite subject. I 2.37 2.739. If given the choice in student teaching, I would I 2.49 3.20</p><p>prefer teaching science over another subject in theelementary school.</p><p>10. My science classes have been boring. I 3.51 4.2211. I would enjoy helping children construct science II 3.92 4.22</p><p>equipment.12. When I become a teacher, I fear that science IV 3.76 4.12</p><p>demonstrations will not work in class.13. I enjoy college science courses. I 3.55 4.0414. I prefer that the instructor of a science class II 3.10 3.73</p><p>demonstrate equipment instead of expecting me tomanipulate it.</p><p>15. I would be interested in working in an experimen- II 3.77 3.96tal elementary science curriculum project.</p><p>16. I enjoy discussing science topics with my friends. Ill 3.12 3.6917. Science is very difficult for me to understand. IV 3.33 4.1018. I expect to be able to excite students about science. Ill 3.92 4.1619. I frequently use science ideas or facts in my III 2.96 3.71</p><p>personal life.20. I believe that I have the same scientific curiosity as III 3.76 4.02</p><p>a young child.</p><p>* I Science content, II Science equipment, III Science interest, &amp; IV Antipathy</p><p>RESULTSComparison of the pretest and posttest scores revealed that 45 students</p><p>(92%) had a positive shift in science attitude, 3 (6%) had a negative shift,and 1 (2%) had no change. One student improved his pretest score by 33points while another students posttest score regressed 11 points. The dif-ferences between the pretest and posttest scores for all other studentswere within this 44 point range. Posttest scores averaged 11.2 pointshigher than the pretest scores and t-test analysis indicated that this posi-tive shift was significant at the .001 level.</p><p>Similar t-test analysis of the responses to the groups of items dealingwith attitudes toward science content, science equipment, science inter-</p></li><li><p>Science Attitude Change in Teachers 297</p><p>est, and antipathy also revealed a positive shift in each area at the .001level of significance. Additionally, comparison of the responses to indi-vidual items on the pretest and posttest revealed a positive shift in each(Table 1).</p><p>DISCUSSIONNumerous factors or combinations of factors might have affected the</p><p>science attitudes of these students. For example, it has been suggestedthat attitude changes during a single course might be a reaction to theteacher or other factors (8). Further, the students in this study mighthave reacted to their knowledge that the activities and content they wereacquiring had a practical value and would be directly applicable to theirfuture teaching. It is also possible that the attitude change noted hereinwere directly caused by the manipulative, hands on nature of the scienceexperiences.A study of this type raises several questions. For example, will the im-</p><p>proved attitudes endure? If so, how long will they last? What factor orcombination of factors were responsible for the attitude change? Whatwill be the effect of future science experiences on the science attitudes ofthese students? Will the improved attitudes be reflected in the futureteaching of these students? Will the improved attitudes be transferred toelementary school pupils?</p><p>This study was not intended to answer the above questions or to ac-count for the attitude change. However, it does show that the goal of im-proving science attitudes is accomplished in the course. Biology for Ele-mentary Teachers. This strongly suggests, or at least keeps open the pos-sibility, that activity-oriented science courses, or a series of such courses,might help develop and maintain positive science attitudes among pros-pective elementary teachers. However, additional research is needed tofurther test this possibility and to determine more specifically the causesof attitude change.</p><p>REFERENCES1) STOLLBERG, R., "The Task Before Us1962. The Education of Elementary School</p><p>Teachers in Science," Reprinted by L. I. Kuslan and A. H. Stone in Readings on Teach-ing Children Science. Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1969.</p><p>2) HONE, E. and E. M. CARSWELL, "Elements of Successful Inservice Education," Scienceand Children, 1969, 6:24-26.</p><p>3) WASHTON, N. S., "Improving Elementary Teacher Education in Science," reprinted byD. L. Williams and W. L. Herman, Jr., in Current Research in Elementary SchoolScience, New York: Macmillian, 1971.</p><p>4) JAUS, H. H., "Using Microteaching to Change Elementary Teachers Attitudes TowardScience Instruction," School Science and Mathematics, 1974, 77(5):402-406.</p><p>5) SHRIGLEY, R. L., "The Correlation of Science Attitude and Science Knowledge of Pre-service Elementary Teachers.Science Education, \974, 58(2): 143-151.</p></li><li><p>298 School Science and Mathematics</p><p>6) SHRIGLEY, R. L., "Scale for Measuring Science Attitude of Preservice ElementaryTeachers," paper presented at annual convention of the National Science Teachers As-sociation, Washington, D.C., March 26-30,1971.</p><p>7) SHRIGLEY, R. L., "The Attitude of Preservice Elementary Teachers Toward Science,"School Science and Mathematics, 1974, 74:243-250.</p><p>8) SHRIGLEY, R. L., "Precision deeded," Attitude Research in Science Education Newslet-ter No. 2, April 4. 1977.</p><p>RESEARCH SEEKS CRIB DEATH-BOTULISM LINKThe organisms that cause botulism poisoning cant grow in an adults intes-</p><p>tine. However, they can grow and produce a deadly toxin in the intestines of in-fants. Scientists identified the disease "infant botulism" in 1976. Since then, atleast 62 children aged three to 26 weeks old have been affected by the disease.Two have died.</p><p>Botulinum spores are found around the world in soil and on raw agriculturalproducts. The spores have been considered harmlessno doubt we often eat rawfruits and vegetables having the spores without coming down with botulism.</p><p>But when cells that develop from the spores can multiply, they form a potenttoxin. The cells are able to multiply in a vacuum environment, such as in a sealedcan. Heating canned vegetables destroys spores that may be present.</p><p>Infant botulism is quite different from the previously known botulism foodpoisoning, for the toxin is produced in the body rather than in a food.</p><p>Researchers have found that botulinum spores can produce toxin in the intes-tine in infant mice as in children only during a limited age period.Some scientists believe the infants intestinal tract lacks organisms that pre-</p><p>vent botulinum toxin from being formed, organisms found in the adults orolder childs gut.</p><p>NEW MOLECULE IN SPACE</p><p>Ten years ago, astronomers did not believe fairly complex molecules couldexist between the stars. Since then, radio astronomers have found nearly 50 suchmolecules, and now a University of WisconsinMadison astronomer has foundone more.</p><p>Using the 11-meter radiotelescope of the National Radio AstronomyObservatory in Tucson, Arizona, Edward B. Churchwell of Wisconsin observeda previously undetected radio emission line at approximately 80 gigahertzfrequency."The molecule responsible for this emission does not seem to exist naturally</p><p>on Earth, says Churchwell.Molecules are formed in space by the collisions of atoms or by atoms that</p><p>collide with dust grains.The molecules form only relatively dense clouds of interstellar gas and dust</p><p>where collisions occur frequently. Dust in the clouds also shields newly-formedmolecules from dissociative action of background ultraviolet starlight.</p><p>Radio waves from interstellar molecules are generated by changes in the rota-tional speed of the molecules. The molecules are identified by matching radiowaves from space with similar waves from molecules studied in laboratories onEarth.</p></li></ul>

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