Research in Science Education

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 337–353 | Cite as

Sources of Self-efficacy in a Science Methods Course for Primary Teacher Education Students

  • D. H. PalmerEmail author


Self-efficacy has been shown to be an issue of concern for primary teacher education students – many of them have low self-efficacy and this can negatively affect their future teaching of science. Previous research has identified four factors that may contribute towards self-efficacy: enactive mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, verbal persuasion and physiological/affective states. It could also be argued that there are additional sources of self-efficacy that apply to primary teacher education students, namely cognitive content mastery, cognitive pedagogical mastery and simulated modelling. The main purpose of the present paper was to investigate the relative importance of the various sources of self-efficacy in a primary science methods course. Data on changes in self-efficacy and sources of self-efficacy were collected throughout the course using formal and informal surveys. It was found that the main source of self-efficacy was cognitive pedagogical mastery.

Key words

self-efficacy science primary teacher elementary teacher 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Appleton, K. (1995). Student teachers’ confidence to teach science: Is more science knowledge necessary to improve self-confidence? International Journal of Science Education, 17, 357–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Appleton, K., & Kindt, I. (1999). Why teach primary science? Influences on beginning teachers’ practices. International Journal of Science Education, 21, 155–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Appleton, K., & Kindt, I. (2002). Beginning elementary teachers’ development as teachers of science. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 13, 43–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bandura, A. (1982). Self-efficacy mechanism in human agency. American Psychologist, 37, 122–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. NY: W.H. Freeman and Co.Google Scholar
  6. Bell, G. L. (2001, March). Reflective journal writing in an inquiry-based science course for elementary preservice teachers. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, St. Louis, MO.Google Scholar
  7. Cannon, J. R., & Scharmann, L. C. (1996). Influence of a cooperative early field experience on preservice elementary teachers’ science self-efficacy. Science Education, 80, 419–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cantrell, P., Young, S., & Moore, A. (2003). Factors affecting science teaching efficacy of preservice elementary teachers. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 14, 177–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Enochs, L. G., & Riggs, I. M. (1990). Further development of an elementary science teaching efficacy belief instrument: A preservice elementary scale. School Science and Mathematics, 90, 695–706.Google Scholar
  10. Ginns, I. S., Watters, J. J., Tulip, D. F., & Lucas, K. B. (1995). Changes in preservice elementary teachers’ sense of efficacy in teaching science. School Science and Mathematics, 95, 394–400.Google Scholar
  11. Jarrett, O. S. (1999). Science interest and confidence among preservice elementary teachers. Journal of Elementary Science Education, 11, 47–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Morrisey, J. T. (1981). An analysis of studies on changing the attitude of elementary student teachers toward science and science teaching. Science Education, 65, 157–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Mulholland, J., & Wallace, J. (1996). Breaking the cycle: Preparing elementary teachers to teach science. Journal of Elementary Science Education, 8, 17–38.Google Scholar
  14. Mulholland, J., & Wallace, J. (2001). Teacher induction and elementary science teaching: Enhancing self-efficacy. Teaching and Teacher Education, 17, 243–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Posnanski, T. J. (2002). Professional development programs for elementary science teachers: An analysis of teacher self-efficacy beliefs and a professional development model. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 13, 189–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Rice, D. C., & Roychoudhury, A. (2003). Preparing more confident preservice elementary science teachers: One elementary science methods teacher’s self-study. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 14, 97–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Schoon, K. J., & Boone, W. J. (1998). Self-efficacy and alternative conceptions of science of preservice elementary teachers. Science Education, 82, 553–568.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Settlage, J. (2000). Understanding the learning cycle: Influences on abilities to embrace the approach by preservice elementary school teachers. Science Education, 84, 43–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Tosun, T. (2000). The beliefs of preservice elementary teachers towards science and science teaching. School Science and Mathematics, 100, 374–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Watters, J. J., & Ginns, I. S. (2000). Developing motivation to teach elementary science: Effect of collaborative and authentic learning practices in preservice education. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 11, 301–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Wingfield, M. E., Freeman, L., & Ramsey, J. (2000, April–May). Science teaching self-efficacy of first year elementary teachers trained in a site based program. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, New Orleans, LA.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of NewcastleLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations