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Developing Quality Through Improved Attitudes Toward Science and Science Teaching
Unformatted Document Text:  The National Science Teaching Standards (1994) support the integral connection between teacher attitudes and practice: The decision about content and activities that teachers make, their interaction with students, the selection of assessments, the habits of mind that teachers demonstrate and nurture among their students, and the attitudes conveyed wittingly and unwittingly all affect the knowledge, understanding, abilities, and attitudes that students develop. (p. 28)Problems with negative or passive attitudes can stem from the early years of school; the earlier attitudes are formed, the more difficult they become to amend (Bryan & Abell, 1999; Cinaglia, 2002; Cronin-Jones, 1991; Pajares, 1992; Tilgner, 1990; Wink, 1999). Unless preservice elementary teachers learn to enjoy science and science teaching, negative attitudes can be passed on to the next generation of students (Crovrther & Bonstetter, 1997; Ellsworth & Buss, 2002; Lee & Krapfl, 2002; Stefanich & Kelsey, 1989; Watters, et al., 1995). Negative attitudes result in decreased quality and quantity of science teaching (Abell & Smith, 1994; Appleton & Kindt, 1999; Bencze & Hodson, 1999; Harlen & Holroyd, 1997; Tilger, 1990). Additional research provided a more hopeful view on modifying attitudes (Alexander, Murphy, Guan, & Murphy, 1998; Cantrell, 2003), yet new experiences and new attitudes needed be created (Rice & Roychoudhury, 2003) through hands-on, supportive teaching strategies not previously experienced (Earl & Winkeljohn, 1977; Ernst 1994; Shrigley, 1974; Stefanich & Kelsey, 1989). C. Contribution: This study contributes to Strand V, Discerning Quality. The unique design of the study involved action research, in which preservice teachers were able to provide ongoing feedback to the instructor as they examined personal attitudes toward science and suggested interventions to assist attitude change. The value of such a collaborative approach embedded in a university teacher program is clearly demonstrated through strongly positive results regarding improved competence and confidence in science instruction. The action research format utilized in this study was grounded in the work of Dewey (1933) and Lewin (1946), as well as more current researchers (Carr & Kemmis, 1986; Collins, 1995; Grundy, 1994; Kraft, 2002: Leitch & Day, 2000; Mewborn, 1999; Stringer, 1996). While the concept of action research for teachers is not new, it has achieved new status in the Teacher Quality Initiative of the No Child Left Behind Act (2002). On July 19-20, 2004, the first Research-to-Practice Summit was held in Washington, D.C., combining researchers with exemplary classroom teachers to demonstrate the use of research findings on improved student learning. An ongoing expectation of highly qualified teachers is increasingly becoming the need to conduct personal action research on classroom practices and resultant student learning. Due to the current emphasis of research-based best practices on increased student performance, it developed to be a powerful model for preservice teachers to experience. While the issue of attitude change was not new to the field of science education, it had not been previously addressed in the context of actively involving teacher candidates in the process. The interventions implemented occurred within the context of licensure standards involving lesson design, practicum experiences, management of hands-on science instruction, assessment techniques, equity issues, and use of technology. D. Relevance: This study involved both quantitative and qualitative data through the use of the Revised Science Attitude Scale (Thompson & Shrigley, 1986), pre and post course interviews, and reflective writing through journaling. Research on reflective thinking and journaling formed an important theoretical framework in this study. (Doyle, 1990; Johnston & Badley, 1996; Leitch & Day, 2000; Mewborn, 1999; Schön; 1983) As Mewborn (1999) asserted, reflection and action taken together form a “bridge across the chasm between educational theory and practice” (p. 317). Reflection has been seen as an essential component of

Authors: Paulson, Patricia.
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The National Science Teaching Standards (1994) support the integral connection between
teacher attitudes and practice:
The decision about content and activities that teachers make, their interaction with
students, the selection of assessments, the habits of mind that teachers demonstrate and
nurture among their students, and the attitudes conveyed wittingly and unwittingly all
affect the knowledge, understanding, abilities, and attitudes that students develop. (p. 28)
Problems with negative or passive attitudes can stem from the early years of school; the
earlier attitudes are formed, the more difficult they become to amend (Bryan & Abell, 1999;
Cinaglia, 2002; Cronin-Jones, 1991; Pajares, 1992; Tilgner, 1990; Wink, 1999). Unless
preservice elementary teachers learn to enjoy science and science teaching, negative attitudes can
be passed on to the next generation of students (Crovrther & Bonstetter, 1997; Ellsworth &
Buss, 2002; Lee & Krapfl, 2002; Stefanich & Kelsey, 1989; Watters, et al., 1995). Negative
attitudes result in decreased quality and quantity of science teaching (Abell & Smith, 1994;
Appleton & Kindt, 1999; Bencze & Hodson, 1999; Harlen & Holroyd, 1997; Tilger, 1990).
Additional research provided a more hopeful view on modifying attitudes (Alexander,
Murphy, Guan, & Murphy, 1998; Cantrell, 2003), yet new experiences and new attitudes needed
be created (Rice & Roychoudhury, 2003) through hands-on, supportive teaching strategies not
previously experienced (Earl & Winkeljohn, 1977; Ernst 1994; Shrigley, 1974; Stefanich &
Kelsey, 1989).
C. Contribution: This study contributes to Strand V, Discerning Quality. The unique
design of the study involved action research, in which preservice teachers were able to provide
ongoing feedback to the instructor as they examined personal attitudes toward science and
suggested interventions to assist attitude change. The value of such a collaborative approach
embedded in a university teacher program is clearly demonstrated through strongly positive
results regarding improved competence and confidence in science instruction. The action
research format utilized in this study was grounded in the work of Dewey (1933) and Lewin
(1946), as well as more current researchers (Carr & Kemmis, 1986; Collins, 1995; Grundy,
1994; Kraft, 2002: Leitch & Day, 2000; Mewborn, 1999; Stringer, 1996). While the concept of
action research for teachers is not new, it has achieved new status in the Teacher Quality
Initiative of the No Child Left Behind Act (2002). On July 19-20, 2004, the first Research-to-
Practice Summit was held in Washington, D.C., combining researchers with exemplary
classroom teachers to demonstrate the use of research findings on improved student learning.
An ongoing expectation of highly qualified teachers is increasingly becoming the need to
conduct personal action research on classroom practices and resultant student learning. Due to
the current emphasis of research-based best practices on increased student performance, it
developed to be a powerful model for preservice teachers to experience. While the issue of
attitude change was not new to the field of science education, it had not been previously
addressed in the context of actively involving teacher candidates in the process. The
interventions implemented occurred within the context of licensure standards involving lesson
design, practicum experiences, management of hands-on science instruction, assessment
techniques, equity issues, and use of technology.
D. Relevance: This study involved both quantitative and qualitative data through the use
of the Revised Science Attitude Scale (Thompson & Shrigley, 1986), pre and post course
interviews, and reflective writing through journaling. Research on reflective thinking and
journaling formed an important theoretical framework in this study. (Doyle, 1990; Johnston &
Badley, 1996; Leitch & Day, 2000; Mewborn, 1999; Schön; 1983) As Mewborn (1999)
asserted, reflection and action taken together form a “bridge across the chasm between
educational theory and practice” (p. 317). Reflection has been seen as an essential component of


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