Five Male Preservice Elementary Teachers: Their Understandings, Beliefs and Practice Regarding Science Teaching
Hoover, Barbara Grambo
McGinnis, J. Randy
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Many factors influence teacher choices concerning the frequency, instructional methods, and content of science teaching. Although the role of gender in science learning has been studied extensively, the gender of elementary teachers as it intersects their teaching of science has not been investigated. In this ethnographic study, I focused on five male preservice elementary teachers as they experienced their student teaching internship, aiming to understand their underlying beliefs about science and science teaching and how those beliefs influenced their practice. In an attempt to illuminate the complex interplay of personality, experience, interests, and gender in the professional lives of these men, this study emphasized the importance of context in the formation and expression of their science beliefs and pedagogy. For this reason, I collected data from a number of sources. From September, 2001 to May, 2002, I observed my participants in their science methods courses and on multiple occasions as they taught science in elementary classrooms in a suburban school district. I reviewed journal entries required for the science methods class and examined documents such as handouts, readings and teacher guides from their elementary teaching experience. I conducted semi-structured and informal interviews. I analyzed data from these sources using grounded theory methodology. Although these five men had many similarities, they differed in their love of science, their exposure to science, their avocational interests, and their views of science pedagogy. This study, however, revealed a unifying theme: each participant had his own set of personal and academic resources that he carried into the classroom and used to construct a distinctive science learning environment. Some of these resources intersect with gender. For example, several men had science-related avocational interests. There was a common emphasis on creating a relaxed, enjoyable, hands-on teaching environment as reported in other studies of male elementary teachers. These findings have implications for elementary school science teaching and recruitment goals for elementary teachers that should be further explored in additional studies.