Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Learning Sciences and Human Development

Committee Chair

Patricia Obenauf

Committee Co-Chair

Keely Camden

Committee Member

Jeffrey S. Carver

Committee Member

Sharon Hayes

Committee Member

James Rye


The current study utilized a mixed methods approach to examine the science teaching efficacy beliefs (STEB) of preservice elementary teachers as they participated in a Science Methods course. The following questions were addressed using quantitative survey data and qualitative interviews: What are the STEB of preservice elementary teachers as they progress through a Science Methods course?; How do the STEB of preservice elementary teachers with higher and lower personal science teaching efficacy (PSTE) beliefs change as they progress through a Science Methods course?; What is the nature of the lived experiences of preservice elementary teachers with higher and lower PSTE beliefs as they progress through a Science Methods course?; and How does the meaning developed during the lived experience of preservice elementary teachers with higher and lower PSTE beliefs influence their STEB? The participants (n = 21) included preservice elementary teachers registered for a Science Methods course as part of the "Block" semester, during their final year of teacher preparation prior to the student teaching experience. Quantitative data was obtained via Science Teaching Efficacy Belief Instrument- form B (STEBI-B) surveys taken at the beginning and end of the Science Methods course. This data was utilized to categorize participants into low, medium, and high efficacy groups, depending on how they scored in relation to one another. Qualitative data was obtained concurrently, through in-depth interviews with four "lower" efficacy participants and four "higher" efficacy participants, and was conducted after the "pre" survey and before the "post" survey, utilizing transcendental phenomenological methodology. Results showed a significant difference between pre- and post- survey data, indicating that the participants, as a whole, experienced an increase in PSTE during the Science Methods course (p<0.001). An examination of the specific subgroups (low, medium, and high efficacy) show a significant difference between the pre- and post- PSTE scores for individuals with low (p = 0.005) and medium (p = 0.004) efficacy, but not those with high efficacy (p = 0.184). The phenomenological interview data revealed five themes with regard to the experience of those with lower and higher efficacy: The power of realistic learning experiences, informal field experiences; The power of authentic teaching experiences; Modeling, the second-hand experience; The necessity of forming relationships; and Assessments and feedback as meaningful work. The composite textural descriptions of interview data revealed that while low efficacy participants found the course "boring" and "repetitive," and they found the assessments and feedback ineffectual, they enjoyed specific aspects of the course, including the field and teaching experiences, as they were more receptive to these experiences. The structural descriptions of the low efficacy participants revealed that their previous negative experiences with science educators impacted their perceptions of their experiences in the course and their beliefs about science education. The high efficacy participants found the activities in the course to be "frustrating," "random," and "pointless," as these individuals had experienced similar activities during previous science courses. Because the high efficacy participants had had generally positive previous experiences with science education and had high expectations for both the Science Methods course and the teacher, they were extremely critical of the course and were less receptive to learning during course activities. The overall essence of the experience for both efficacy groups was a need for connectedness with the science content, the assessments, the elementary students, and the teacher of the course.