Assessing and Enhancing Pre-service Science Teachers’ Self-Efficacy to Teach Science Through Argumentation: Challenges and Possible Solutions

  • Mehmet AydenizEmail author
  • Zehra Ozdilek


The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of an intervention on pre-service science teachers’ self-efficacy to teach science through argumentation and explore the challenges they experienced while implementing argumentation. Forty pre-service science teachers in their final semester of schooling participated in an intervention that lasted for 11 weeks. Intervention focused on participants’ understanding of argumentation as a scientific practice and as a pedagogical tool. The participants engaged in argument construction, evaluation, and critique, taught three argumentation lessons, engaged in peer observation of teaching, and reflection on their teaching skills. Data were collected through Argumentation Self-Efficacy Scale and an open-ended questionnaire. The results show that the intervention had a significantly positive effect on pre-service teachers’ self-efficacy. Despite this reported self-efficacy, participants experienced significant challenges in guiding their students to construct scientific arguments and assessing the arguments developed by their students. Discussion focuses on implications for professional development of pre-service and in-service science teachers.


Argumentation Chemistry Pre-service science teachers Pedagogy Science Self-efficacy 

Supplementary material

10763_2015_9649_MOESM1_ESM.doc (194 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 194 kb)


  1. Abbott, M. L. (2011). Understanding educational statistics using Microsoft Excel and SPSS. Toronto, Ontario: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  2. Anderson, R., Greene, M. & Loewen, P. (1988). Relationships among teachers’ and students’ thinking skills, sense of efficacy, and student achievement. Journal of Educational Research, 34(2), 148–165.Google Scholar
  3. Avery, L. M. & Meyer, D. Z. (2012). Teaching science as science is practiced: Opportunities and limits for enhancing pre-service elementary teachers’ self-efficacy for science and science teaching. School Science and Mathematics, 112, 395–409. doi: 10.1111/j.1949-8594.2012.00159.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84, 191–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bell, P. & Linn, M. (2000). Scientific arguments as learning artifacts: Designing for learning from the web with KIE. International Journal of Science Education, 22(8), 797–817.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Berland, L. K. & Hammer, D. (2012). Framing for scientific argumentation. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48(1), 68–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Berland, L. & McNeill, K. (2010). A learning progression for scientific argumentation: Understanding student work and designing supportive instructional contexts. Science Education, 94(5), 765–793.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Berland, L. K. & Reiser, B. J. (2009). Making sense of argumentation and explanation. Science Education, 93(1), 26–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bekiroğlu, F. & Aydeniz, M. (2013). Enhancing pre-service physics teachers’ perceived self-efficacy of argumentation-based pedagogy through modelling and mastery experiences. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, 3(9), 233–245.Google Scholar
  10. Bransford, J., Darling-Hammond, L. & LePage, P. (2005). Introduction. In L. Darling-Hammond & J. Bransford (Eds.), Preparing teachers for a changing world: What teachers should learn and be able to do. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  11. 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
  12. Christodoulou, A. & Osborne, J. (2014). The science classroom as a site of epistemic talk: A case study of a teacher’s attempts to teach science based on argument. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 51, 1275–1300. doi: 10.1002/tea.21166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cross, D., Taasoobshirazi, G., Hendricks, S. & Hickey, D. T. (2008). Argumentation: A strategy for improving achievement and revealing scientific identities. International Journal of Science Education, 30(6), 837–861.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Duschl, R. A., Schweingruber, H. A. & Shouse, A. E. (Eds.). (2007). Taking science to school: Learning and teaching science in grades K-8. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  15. Erduran, S., Ardac, D. & Yakmaci-Guzel, B. (2006). Learning to teach argumentation: Case studies of pre-service secondary science teachers. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, 2(2), 1–14.Google Scholar
  16. Erduran, S. & Jimenez-Aleixandre, M. P. (Eds.). (2008). Argumentation in science education. New York, NY: Springer.Google Scholar
  17. Erduran, S., Simon, S. & Osborne, J. (2004). TAPping into argumentation: Developments in the application of Toulimin’s argument pattern for studying science discourse. Science Education, 88(6), 915–933.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Garcia-Mila, M. M., Gilabert, S., Erduran, S. & Felton, M. (2013). The effect of argumentation task goal on the quality of argumentative discourse. Science Education, 97(4), 497–523. doi: 10.1002/sce.21057.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. George, D. & Mallery, P. (2003). SPSS for Windows step by step: A simple guide and reference. 11.0 update (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  20. Greene, J. C. (2007). Mixed methods in social inquiry. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  21. Kelly, G. & Chen, C. (1999). The sound of music: Constructing science as sociocultural practices through oral and written discourse. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 36, 883–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kuhn, D. (2010). Teaching and learning science as argument. Science Education, 94, 810–824.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lemke, J. L. (1990). Talking science: Language, learning and values. Westport, CT: Ablex.Google Scholar
  24. Maehr, M. & Pintrich, P. R. (1997). Advances in motivation and achievement (Vol. 10). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.Google Scholar
  25. McCrae, R. R., Kurtz, J. E., Yamagata, S. & Terracciano, A. (2011). Internal consistency, retest reliability and their implications for personality scale validity. Personal Social Psychology Review, 15(1), 28–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. McKinnon, M. & Lamberts, R. (2014). Influencing science teaching self-efficacy beliefs of primary school teachers: A longitudinal case study. International Journal of Science Education, 4(2), 172–194.Google Scholar
  27. McNeill, K. L. (2011). Elementary students’ views of explanation, argumentation and evidence and abilities to construct arguments over the school year. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48(7), 793–823.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. McNeill, K. L. & Knight, A. M. (2013). Teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge of scientific argumentation: The impact of professional development on k-12 teachers. Science Education, 97, 936–972.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. McNeill, K. L. & Krajcik, J. (2011). Claim, evidence and reasoning: Supporting grade 5-8 students in constructing scientific explanations. Boston, MA: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  30. Mercer, N., Dawes, R., Wegerif, R. & Sams, C. (2004). Reasoning as a scientist: Ways of helping children to use language to learn science. British Educational Research Journal, 30(3), 367–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Osborne, J., Erduran, S. & Simon, S. (2004). Ideas, Evidence and Argument in Science (IDEAS) In-service Training Pack, Resource Pack and Video. London, England: Nuffield Foundation.Google Scholar
  32. Osborne, J., Simon, S., Christodoulou, A., Howell-Richardson, C. & Richardson, K. (2013). Learning to argue: A study of four schools and their attempt to develop the use of argumentation as a common instructional practice and its impact on students. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 50, 315–347. doi: 10.1002/tea.21073.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Pajares, F. & Schunk, D. H. (2001). Self-beliefs and school success: Self-efficacy, self-concept, and school achievement. In R. Riding & S. Rayner (Eds.), Self-perception (pp. 239–266). London, England: Ablex.Google Scholar
  34. Palmer, D. H. (2006). Sources of self-efficacy in a science methods course for primary teacher education students. Research in Science Education, 36(4), 337–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Ratcliffe, M., Hanley, P. & Osborne, J. F. (2007). Evaluation of Twenty First Century Science GCSE Strand 3: The teaching of Twenty First Century Science GCSE, and teachers’ and students’ views of the course. Southampton, England: University of Southampton.Google Scholar
  36. Sadler, T. D. & Donnelly, L. A. (2006). Socioscientific argumentation: The effects of content knowledge and morality. International Journal of Science Education, 28(12), 1463–1488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Sampson, V. & Blanchard, M. R. (2012). Science teachers and scientific argumentation: Trends in views and practice. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 49, 1122–1148. doi: 10.1002/tea.21037.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sampson, V., Enderle, P., Gleam, L., Grooms, J., Hester, M., Southerland, S. & Wilson, K. (2014). Argument-Driven Inquiry in biology lab: Investigations for grades (pp. 9–12). Arlington, TX: NSTA Press.Google Scholar
  39. Simon, S., Erduran, S. & Osborne, J. (2006). Learning to teach argumentation: Research and development in the science classroom. International Journal of Science Education, 28(2&3), 235–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Simon, S., Johnson, S. & Johnson, S. (2008). Professional learning portfolios for argumentation in school science. International Journal of Science Education, 30(5), 669–688.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Venville, G. J. & Dawson, V. M. (2010). The impact of a classroom intervention on grade 10 students’ argumentation skills, informal reasoning, and conceptual understanding of science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47, 952–977. doi: 10.1002/tea.20358.Google Scholar
  42. von Aufschnaiter, C., Erduran, S., Osborne, J. & Simon, S. (2008). Arguing to learn and learning to argue: Case studies of how students’ argumentation relates to their scientific knowledge. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 45(1), 101–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. White, D. P. (2009). The effects of teacher efficacy on student achievement in an urban district (Unpublished Dissertation). Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Virginia Beach, VA.Google Scholar
  44. Zembal-Saul, C. (2009). Learning to teach elementary school science as argument. Science Education, 93, 687–719.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Zimmerman, B. & Cleary, T. (2006). Adolescents’ development of personal agency: The role of self-efficacy beliefs and self-regulatory skill. In F. Pajares & T. Urdan (Eds.), Self-efficacy beliefs of adolescents (pp. 45–69). Charlotte, NC: Age.Google Scholar
  46. Zohar, A. (2008). Science teacher education and professional development in argumentation. In S. Erduran & M. P. Jimenez-Aleixandre (Eds.), Argumentation in science education: Perspectives from classroom-based research (pp. 245–268). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.Google Scholar
  47. Zohar, A. & Nemet, F. (2002). Fostering students’ knowledge and argumentation skills through dilemmas in human genetics. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 39(1), 35–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  2. 2.College of EducationUludag UniversityBursaTurkey

Personalised recommendations