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Developing Quality Through Improved Attitudes Toward Science and Science Teaching
Unformatted Document Text:  Developing Quality Through Improved Attitudes Toward Science and Science Teaching Section I A. Statement of the Problem: Despite a half-century of efforts to reform science teaching and learning, the aim of scientific literacy for all Americans (National Research Council, 1996) remains an elusive goal. Part of the problem achieving this goal rests with the evolving nature of such literacy, as the definition changes in an increasingly complex, technological society. Yet a continuing issue rests with a perceived view of the content of science as a challenging, difficult subject, mastered by only a select few (Crovrther & Bonnstetter, 1997). This attitude has increasingly thwarted the vision of scientific achievement for all students in American schools; the critical elementary teaching force has continued to express lack of confidence in science concepts (Fulp, 2002; Tilger, 1990; Watters, Finns, Enochs, & Asoko, 1995). In addition, the quantity and quality of elementary science teaching has been inversely related to increased accountability for reading, writing, and mathematics skills under national and state legislation; teachers are held less accountable for a content area toward which they already feel ambivalence. B. Literature Review: The necessity of a scientifically literate populace has accelerated since Sputnik II in 1957, with historic landmarks such as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (1965), A Nation At Risk (1983), Project 2061 (AAAS, 1990), Goals 2000:Educate America Act (1994), and the No Child Left Behind Act (2002) refueling reform initiatives. Data from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS, 1994; 1998) documented the consistently low performance of students in the United States in mathematics and science relative to students in forty countries worldwide. A linchpin publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS) Project 2061, Science for All Americans (1990), established the critical goal of the U.S. being first in the world in mathematics and science by the return of Halley’s comet in the year 2061. The fact that America was declining economically due to diminishing scientific and technological preeminence, coupled with educational trends of low test scores, fewer students taking science courses beyond the required, and a poorly prepared teaching force, led to an urgent call for reform. An inherent focus of these concerns centers on the qualities and competencies of classroom teachers to implement and sustain long-term science education reform, enabling students to complete their K-12 experience with the necessary knowledge and skills for scientific literacy. The importance of preparing elementary teachers to provide engaging, conceptually based elementary science experiences is essential. Through the concrete, experiential experiences of elementary science, foundational understandings are developed, which will form the basis of future, more abstract learning. Research on learning and the brain continues to support the significance of providing concrete experiences in the early years to form meaningful “hooks” for later learning (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000; Hunter, 1971; Wolfe, 2001). While recent research has been conducted on the type and amount of content knowledge contained in elementary teacher preparation programs (Lee & Krapfl, 2002; Paige, 2002; Palmer, 2002; Usiskin, 2002), less extensive current research has been conducted on addressing teacher attitudes toward science and science teaching. Watters, Finns, Enochs, and Asoko (1995) stressed that, despite adequate background content knowledge, it is the teacher’s attitude toward science that can impact teaching methodologies and amount of time spent in teaching the content. To insure both the quantity and quality of science instruction, it is important to give attention to research on preservice teachers’ attitudes toward science and science teaching (Fraser, Tobin, & Lacy, 1984; Ginns & Foster, 1983; Koballa & Crawley, 1985; Lucas & Dooley, 1982; Morrisey, 1981; Schibeci, 1984).

Authors: Paulson, Patricia.
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background image
Developing Quality Through Improved Attitudes
Toward Science and Science Teaching
Section I
A. Statement of the Problem: Despite a half-century of efforts to reform science teaching
and learning, the aim of scientific literacy for all Americans (National Research Council, 1996)
remains an elusive goal. Part of the problem achieving this goal rests with the evolving nature of
such literacy, as the definition changes in an increasingly complex, technological society. Yet a
continuing issue rests with a perceived view of the content of science as a challenging, difficult
subject, mastered by only a select few (Crovrther & Bonnstetter, 1997). This attitude has
increasingly thwarted the vision of scientific achievement for all students in American schools;
the critical elementary teaching force has continued to express lack of confidence in science
concepts (Fulp, 2002; Tilger, 1990; Watters, Finns, Enochs, & Asoko, 1995). In addition, the
quantity and quality of elementary science teaching has been inversely related to increased
accountability for reading, writing, and mathematics skills under national and state legislation;
teachers are held less accountable for a content area toward which they already feel ambivalence.
B. Literature Review: The necessity of a scientifically literate populace has accelerated
since Sputnik II in 1957, with historic landmarks such as the Elementary and Secondary
Education Act
(1965), A Nation At Risk (1983), Project 2061 (AAAS, 1990), Goals
2000:Educate America Act
(1994), and the No Child Left Behind Act (2002) refueling reform
initiatives. Data from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS, 1994;
1998) documented the consistently low performance of students in the United States in
mathematics and science relative to students in forty countries worldwide. A linchpin
publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS) Project
2061, Science for All Americans (1990), established the critical goal of the U.S. being first in the
world in mathematics and science by the return of Halley’s comet in the year 2061. The fact that
America was declining economically due to diminishing scientific and technological
preeminence, coupled with educational trends of low test scores, fewer students taking science
courses beyond the required, and a poorly prepared teaching force, led to an urgent call for
reform.
An inherent focus of these concerns centers on the qualities and competencies of
classroom teachers to implement and sustain long-term science education reform, enabling
students to complete their K-12 experience with the necessary knowledge and skills for scientific
literacy. The importance of preparing elementary teachers to provide engaging, conceptually
based elementary science experiences is essential. Through the concrete, experiential
experiences of elementary science, foundational understandings are developed, which will form
the basis of future, more abstract learning. Research on learning and the brain continues to
support the significance of providing concrete experiences in the early years to form meaningful
“hooks” for later learning (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000; Hunter, 1971; Wolfe, 2001).
While recent research has been conducted on the type and amount of content knowledge
contained in elementary teacher preparation programs (Lee & Krapfl, 2002; Paige, 2002; Palmer,
2002; Usiskin, 2002), less extensive current research has been conducted on addressing teacher
attitudes toward science and science teaching. Watters, Finns, Enochs, and Asoko (1995)
stressed that, despite adequate background content knowledge, it is the teacher’s attitude toward
science that can impact teaching methodologies and amount of time spent in teaching the
content. To insure both the quantity and quality of science instruction, it is important to give
attention to research on preservice teachers’ attitudes toward science and science teaching
(Fraser, Tobin, & Lacy, 1984; Ginns & Foster, 1983; Koballa & Crawley, 1985; Lucas &
Dooley, 1982; Morrisey, 1981; Schibeci, 1984).


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