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A study on science teaching efficacy beliefs during pre-service elementary training


Two science teaching workshops for students of the elementary teacher education degree course at the University of Palermo, Italy are discussed, one based on inquiry-based methods and the other on "traditional" teaching methods. A questionnaire aimed to understand the teaching styles preferred by students, their reasons for learning/teaching science, and their beliefs about the difficulties a teacher faces when planning and trying out science teaching activities in the class were completed by the students before the first workshop, at its end, and the end of the second workshop. The answers given by the students were studied using cluster analysis methods. The results of the analysis of answers given to initial and intermediate questionnaires indicate that the students recognize the importance of teaching scientific subjects in elementary school. However, the self-perception of their abilities to effectively teach science is negative, both before and after attending the "traditional" type teaching workshop. After doing the inquiry-based teaching workshop and holding several days of a science fair, most of the students' negative beliefs have changed into positive ones. A better general understanding of the fundamental role played by the teacher in encouraging the natural curiosity of children and offering scientific activities based on everyday life experiences was observed.