Confronting Barriers to Teaching Elementary Science: After-School Science Teaching Experiences for Preservice Teachers
This qualitative study examines the transition of eight elementary preservice teachers into student teaching after participating in a science methods course that included a significant amount of teaching after-school science to elementary grade students. These eight participants had a chance to practice teaching inquiry-based science and to reform their own perceptions of science teaching and learning through an eight-week after-school science program situated within their elementary science methods course. Data were collected through observations, reflections, and participant interviews over two academic years, which began with our participants' participation in the science methods course and continued through their student teaching semester. Preservice teachers had more positive ideas about science after participating in the afterschool teaching experience and the science methods course. The changes in their thinking about science instruction gave them added motivation to confront barriers associated with teaching science, which include a lack of confidence in teaching and teaching science, preservice teachers' perceptions of what science is, and classroom constraints. This study promotes one way of enhancing science instruction in the classrooms while also benefitting the community-students and preservice teachers engaging in after-school programs focused on guided-inquiry science teaching.