Primary science for a new age: A mixed methods, multi-stage investigation of innovative practices in preservice primary science education

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

90 Downloads (Pure)


In an era where scientific literacy is a clear necessity, Australia’s science education system is mired by intergenerational disengagement and poor outcomes. Negative perceptions of science and limited scientific literacy in childhood often persist into adulthood. As many stakeholders, including teachers and students, are influenced by their own inadequate science education experiences, this cycle is challenging to break. The research presented in this dissertation focuses on preservice primary teachers due to their foundational position, accessibility and potential to enact long-term changes in science education. This dissertation aims to first establish a broader context of science research; prior to investigating the science teaching efficacy beliefs and science perceptions of pre-service primary teachers enrolled in two complex, innovative science courses. Furthermore, the graduate transition is addressed as the participants’ inservice science teaching efficacy beliefs and reported science practices are explored.

The research was conducted over nine years (2007-2015) and been presented across six publications. The first publication presents a meta-analysis of research which utilised the Science Teaching Efficacy Belief Instruments (STEBI-A/B). The second publication describes two complex, innovative science courses (SC108 and SC308). The third publication presents a four year investigation of the science teaching efficacy beliefs and experiences of a single cohort as they completed a science program (SC108 and SC308) and proceeded to graduation. The fourth publication reports on STEBI-B data collected from 877 preservice primary teachers who completed the two course science program. The fifth publication investigates the science teaching efficacy beliefs and reported science teaching practices of the participants after they had graduated to become inservice teachers The final publication investigates the transition of a science course (SC308) from a face-to-face mode of delivery to an online mode of delivery.

The first publication showed that there is considerable methodological variety in terms of how the STEBI instruments have been used since original publication. Unsurprisingly, student-centred approaches to tertiary education and professional development produce the strongest growth in preservice and inservice teachers’ science teaching efficacy beliefs. Results from the remaining publications suggest that participation in the science program (SC108 and SC308) covaried with statistically significant increases to preservice primary teachers’ science teaching efficacy beliefs. The STEB increases remained durable in the absence of treatment at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. As early career teachers, the interviewees displayed a willingness to use engaging, student-centred approaches to science teaching despite hindering influences within their school contexts. Evidence presented in the final publication shows that the SC308 course design can be transitioned successfully, in terms of participant STEB growth and engagement levels, to an online mode of delivery. The dissertation ends with a discussion and conclusion section which outlines the relevance of the research, answers the research questions and discusses limitations, directions for future research and implications for practice.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
  • Danaia, Lena, Principal Supervisor
  • McKinnon, David H., Principal Supervisor, External person
Award date20 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


Dive into the research topics of 'Primary science for a new age: A mixed methods, multi-stage investigation of innovative practices in preservice primary science education'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this