How Preservice Elementary Teachers Develop Their Personal Philosophies About Science Teaching: The Role of Informal Science Approaches
Abstract: The purpose of this case study was to explore how (if in any way) three informal science approaches as part of a teacher preparation program could shape preservice teachers’ personal philosophies of science teaching and learning. Data were collected in a period of two academic semesters in the context of an elementary methods course through the following sources: science autobiographies, personal philosophies about science teaching, drawings about their most memorable and least memorable experiences of science, three reflective journals about the three informal science experiences (i.e., working with scientists, field, science festival), lesson plans, responses to final exam questions, observations, and semi-structured interviews. The participants were 16 preservice elementary teachers, seven males and nine females. Open coding techniques were used to analyse the data in order to construct categories and subcategories and eventually to identify emerging themes. The outcomes of the analysis showed that the inclusion of informal learning in teachers’ preparation has the potential to support preservice teachers’ in reconstructing their ideas about science and science teaching in ways that are aligned with reform efforts emphasizing student engagement, working with scientists, and utilizing out-of-school spaces for learning.