This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

University and Elementary School Perspectives of Ideal Elementary Science Teacher Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions




Stewart, Bethany

Type of Degree



Curriculum and Teaching


Teacher education knowledge, skills, and dispositions have recently become a well-discussed topic among education scholars around the nation, mainly due to its attention by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) over the past few years. Accrediting agencies, such as NCATE and the Interstate New Teacher and Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC), have sought to improve the quality of teacher education programs by examining knowledge, skills, and dispositions as factors in preparing highly-qualified teachers. There is a paucity of research examining these factors for elementary science teachers. Because these factors influence instruction, and students are behind in scientific and mathematical knowledge, elementary science teachers should be studied. Teacher knowledge, skills, and dispositions should be further researched in order to ultimately increase the quality of teachers and teacher education programs. In this particular case, by determining what schools of education and public schools deem important knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to teach science, higher education institutions and schools can collaborate to further educate these students and foster the necessary qualities needed to teach effectively. The study of knowledge, skills, and dispositions is crucial to nurturing effective teaching within the classroom. Results from this study demonstrated that there were prominent knowledge, skills, and dispositions identified by teachers, administrators, and science teacher educators as important for effective teaching of elementary science. These characteristics included: a willingness to learn, or open-mindedness; content knowledge; planning, organization, and preparation; significance of teaching science; and science-related assessment strategies. Interestingly, administrators in the study responded differently than their counterparts in the following areas: their self-evaluation of teacher effectiveness; how the teaching of science is valued; the best approach to science teaching; and planning for science instruction. When asked of their teaching effectiveness while teaching science, principals referred to enjoying science teaching and improving their practice, while teachers and science teacher educators discussed content knowledge. Administrators valued conducting experiments and hands-on science while teaching science, while their educational counterparts valued creating student connections and providing real-life applications to science for students. In their professional opinions, administrators preferred a hands-on approach to science teaching. Teachers and science teacher educators stated that they view scientific inquiry, exploration, and discovery as effective approaches to teaching within their classrooms. Administrators predicted that teachers would state that lack of resources affects their lesson planning in science. However, teachers and science teacher educators asserted that taking time to plan for science instruction was most important.