Preservice Early Childhood Teachers’ Learning of Science in a Methods Course: Examining the Predictive Ability of an Intentional Learning Model

Abstract

This study investigated the predictive ability of an intentional learning model in the change of preservice early childhood teachers’ conceptual understanding of lunar phases. Fifty-two preservice early childhood teachers who were enrolled in an early childhood science methods course participated in the study. Results indicated that the use of metacognitive strategies facilitated preservice early childhood teachers’ use of deep-level cognitive strategies, which in turn promoted conceptual change. Also, preservice early childhood teachers with high motivational beliefs were more likely to use cognitive and metacognitive strategies. Thus, they were more likely to engage in conceptual change. The results provided evidence that the hypothesized model of intentional learning has a high predictive ability in explaining the change in preservice early childhood teachers’ conceptual understandings from the pre to post-interviews. Implications for designing a science methods course for preservice early childhood teachers are provided.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Mesut Saçkes.

Additional information

This manuscript is based on the first author’s doctoral dissertation.

Appendices

Appendix 1

Example items from The Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire

  Sample items from the subscales of the MSLQa
Cognitive strategies  
Elaboration strategies  
  When I study for this course, I write brief summaries of the main ideas from the readings and my class notes
  I try to understand the material in this class by making connections between the readings and the concepts from the lectures
Organization strategies  
  When I study the readings for this course, I outline the material to help me organize my thoughts
  When I study for this course, I go over my class notes and make an outline of important concepts
Metacognitive strategies  
Metacognitive control strategies  
  When studying for this course I try to determine which concepts I don’t understand well
  I ask myself questions to make sure I understand the material I have been studying in this class
Motivational beliefs  
Self-efficacy  
  I’m confident I can learn the basic concepts taught in this course
  I’m confident I can understand the most complex material presented by the instructor in this course
Mastery goal orientation  
  In a class like this, I prefer course material that really challenges me so I can learn new things
  The most satisfying thing for me in this course is trying to understand the content as thoroughly as possible
Task-value  
  It is important for me to learn the course material in this class
  I am very interested in the content area of this course
  1. aPintrich et al. (1991). A manual for the use of the motivated strategies for learning questionnaire (MSLQ). (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 338 122)

Appendix 2

Conceptual understanding categories and codings

Categories Codes
Scientific All four criteria for scientific included:
Half the moon is illuminated by sun [SciHalf]
Moon orbits earth [SciOrb]
Varying portions of the illuminated half are seen from earth as moon phases [SciSee]
Relative positions of sun, earth, and moon determine how much of the illuminated half is seen from earth [SciEMS]
See Qualitative Evidence of the Change in Conceptual Understandings section for the example
Scientific fragment Included a subset, but not all, of the four scientific criteria [SciFrag]
Scientific with alternative fragment Met all four scientific criteria but also included one of the alternative fragments below [Sci_AltFrag]
Alternative with scientific fragments Alternative, nonscientific explanation with some scientific criteria included [Alt_SciFrag]
Alternative Alternative, nonscientific explanation
Earth’s shadow causes moon phases [AltEclipse]
Earth’s rotation on axis causes moon phases [AltRot]
Moon independently orbits sun but not earth. When the sun gets between earth and moon, the moon is in a new moon phase [AltHeliocentric]
Sun and moon orbit earth [AltGeocentric]
Clouds cover the moon and cause moon phases [AltClouds]
Seasonal changes cause moon phases [AltSeason]
See Qualitative Evidence of the Change in Conceptual Understandings section for the example
Alternative fragments Included a subset or subsets of alternative understandings [AltFrag]

Appendix 3

Scoring rubric for semi-structured interviews

  Scoring rubric for interview protocol
Scientific Participant’s conceptual understanding exhibits all element of scientific understanding without exhibiting alternative conception
10 Points Includes all elements of scientific understanding
Scientific fragment Participant’s conceptual understanding does not exhibit an alternative mental model, but fails to include all elements of scientific understanding
9 Points Missing one element of scientific understanding
8 Points Missing two elements of scientific understanding
7 Points Missing three elements of scientific understanding
Scientific with alternative fragment Participant exhibit all four elements of scientific understanding along with an alternative mental model
6 Points Includes all elements of scientific understanding with an alternative mental model
Alternative with scientific fragments Participant’s conceptual understanding exhibits an alternative mental model, but also includes some elements of scientific understanding
5 Points Includes an alternative mental model, but also contains three elements of scientific understanding
4 Points Includes an alternative mental model, but also contains two elements of scientific understanding
3 Points Includes an alternative mental model, but also contains one element of scientific understanding
Alternative Participant’ conceptual understanding exhibits no elements of scientific understanding and includes a single mental model
2 Points Includes a single alternative mental model without any elements of scientific understanding
Alternative fragments Participant’ conceptual understanding exhibits two or more alternative mental models. Conceptual understanding may or may not exhibit some elements of scientific understanding
1 Points Includes two or more alternative mental models
No conceptual understanding Participant exhibits no conceptual understanding
0 Points Participant exhibits no conceptual understanding

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Saçkes, M., Trundle, K.C. Preservice Early Childhood Teachers’ Learning of Science in a Methods Course: Examining the Predictive Ability of an Intentional Learning Model. J Sci Teacher Educ 25, 413–444 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10972-013-9355-y

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Keywords

  • Preservice early childhood teachers
  • Early childhood science methods course
  • Early childhood teacher education
  • Intentional learning
  • Conceptual change