DO THE PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS KNOW THE SCIENCE THEY HAVE TO TEACH? VALIDATION OF AN INSTRUMENT TO ASSESS PRIMARY SCHOOL SCIENCE CONCEPTS KNOWLEDGE
Universidad de Valencia (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Conference name: 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2013
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:An effective science teaching requires that teachers control and understand the contents of the curriculum (Rocard et al., 2007). In fact, the specialized literature shows a strong relationship among science teachers' competence and their content knowledge (Alexander, 2000). In Spain, Cañal (2000) was troubled about the required scientific knowledge for a primary teacher and predicted scientific literacy in future teachers as a new problem to be deal with. Meanwhile, Mellado (2000) analysed critically how professional teaching knowledge is being acquired, and what limitations and lacks have pre-service teachers training in science. This author emphasized the importance of subject-matter knowledge as a necessary but not sufficient condition for initial training of secondary teachers; and not any content, but a professional one oriented towards future teaching task.
The main aim of this work is to design and to validate a tool for assessing the level of science knowledge on the main concepts in primary school curriculum. First, a full revision of legal documents was made to determine the main subject areas involved in primary science in Spain: matter and energy, diversity of living beings, natural environment and its preservation, health science and personal development.
Next, a set of well-known and best-sold textbooks were analysed in order to determine a significant group of concepts and applications present in most of them. The set of scientific concepts selected were important as primitive concepts for further scientific development, not only for future teachers, but also for all citizens in order to ensure a minimum of scientific literacy required for participation in decision making (Vilches and Gil, 2006). They were basic and frequent concepts in educational webpages too. A set of 50 direct application items were designed to elaborate the questionnaire. All these items were of conceptual nature so this questionnaire focused in scientific conceptual knowledge. Four options were provided for each item but only one was correct.
Validation followed two main steps. First, a group of 3 experts in science education analysed the 50 items to judge whether their level was equivalent to primary school (i.e. basic level suitable for assess science literacy) or not. After a few replacements, experts agreed in the adequacy of the full questionnaire to primary science knowledge. Second, several intact groups of pre-service teachers (university students) were taken for statistical validation purposes. Reliability was measured by the Kurder-Richardson’s 20th formula. The test-retest procedure was used to calculate consistency. Reliability and consistency were acceptable enough (above 0,7 in both cases), although some items required revision to improve their correlation with others.
Keywords: Content knowledge, scientific literacy, primary education, pre-service primary teachers, assessment.