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ERIC Number: EJ779682
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Dec
Pages: 16
Abstractor: Author
Reference Count: 22
ISSN: ISSN-0013-1881
Primary Science Teacher Confidence Revisited: Ten Years on
Murphy, Colette; Neil, Peter; Beggs, Jim
Educational Research, v49 n4 p415-430 Dec 2007
Background: This paper compares the findings from a recent, large-scale UK-wide survey of primary teachers' confidence in teaching science with the results of a seminal report carried out 10 years ago by Wynne Harlen in Scotland. Recent reports from across the UK have indicated there are still serious concerns relating to primary teachers' confidence and ability to teach science effectively. Purpose: The main research aims were to provide a clear, evidence-based analysis of the current issues facing primary science in the UK; explore primary teachers' confidence in science teaching and to evaluate the impact of science initiatives taking place in UK primary schools. Sample: The sample for the study comprised: telephone interviews with 300 primary teachers from all UK regions; seven focus groups of primary teachers held in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to further explore the issues raised in the telephone interviews; and workshops from a two-day conference of 75 stakeholders in primary science from all UK regions (approximately half the delegates were teachers; also represented were teacher educators (initial and continuing professional development), curriculum developers and policy-makers). In addition, 100 teacher education institutions were surveyed in relation to their participation in primary science initiatives. Design and methods: The methodology for both studies comprised qualitative and quantitative elements (see sample details, above). All data were collected between June and September 2004. Results: The findings indicated that there are improvements in some areas of primary teachers' confidence in teaching science. However, the study showed that half of the teachers surveyed cited lack of teacher confidence and ability to teach science as the current issue of major concern in primary science. This paper also reports on some of the professional development initiatives carried out by higher education institutions in primary science. Conclusions: The paper concludes that there has been some progress in developing teacher confidence in primary science over the past 10 years. However, the situation is still critical for all stakeholders. Half of the teachers surveyed in the UK for the present study identified lack of teacher confidence and ability to teach science as the major issue of concern in primary science. Higher education institutions need to enhance the preparation of new primary teachers to ensure that they are all confident and effective teachers of science. They could also increase their partnership work with schools and other continuing professional development (CPD) providers in relation to primary science. The evidence demonstrates clearly that there is a need for "substantially increasing" science professional development for primary teachers. It also shows that such professional development could be more effectively targeted at specific aspects of science teaching that are more challenging for teachers. Further, the study shows that professional development in science works, in that teachers who have experienced science continuing professional development (CPD) are much more confident to teach science than those who have not. (Contains 2 figures and 5 tables.)
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom