ERIC Number: EJ1155538
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Abstractor: As Provided
Teacher Perspectives on Specialisation in the Elementary Classroom: Implications for Science Instruction
Poland, Susan; Colburn, Amanda; Long, David E.
International Journal of Science Education, v39 n13 p1715-1732 2017
In the current educational climate of testing and accountability, many elementary teachers find they lack adequate time and confidence to enact reform-based science teaching due to pressure to perform in reading and mathematics. With this tension in mind, we explore the phenomenon of elementary teacher specialisation in comparison to the traditional, generalist model of teaching, wherein a teacher is responsible for teaching all subjects to one group of students each year. This mixed-methods study examines teacher perspectives on the practice of specialisation and generalisation through teacher interview data. Our teachers spoke candidly about their attitudes towards specialisation, the perceived impacts of specialization on teachers and students, and the role of accountability, administration, and testing in their decisions to specialise. Additionally, our teachers discussed time dedicated to science in specialist and generalist classrooms. Our findings suggest that specialist roles are sought by those who see specialisation as a means of reducing workload, while allowing for content mastery and improved instruction. Alternatively, generalist roles are sought by those who primarily view the role of elementary teaching as the care and development of children, and who prefer to focus on the classroom as a holistic, fluid space. Implications for science teaching are discussed.
Descriptors: Teacher Attitudes, Elementary School Teachers, Elementary School Science, Science Instruction, Science Teachers, Inservice Teacher Education, Mixed Methods Research, Elementary School Students, Accountability, Educational Legislation, Federal Legislation, Educational Change, Semi Structured Interviews, Ethnography
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: Elementary Education
Sponsor: Department of Education (ED), Office of Innovation and Improvement
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001
Grant or Contract Numbers: U396B100039