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First‐year Pre‐service Teachers in Taiwan—Do they enter the teacher program with satisfactory scientific literacy and attitudes toward science?

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Scientific literacy and attitudes toward science play an important role in human daily lives. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether first‐year pre‐service teachers in colleges in Taiwan have a satisfactory level of scientific literacy. The domains of scientific literacy selected in this study include: (1) science content; (2) the interaction between science, technology and society (STS); (3) the nature of science; and (4) attitudes toward science. In this study, the instruments used were Chinese translations of the Test of Basic Scientific Literacy (TBSL) and the Test of Science‐related Attitudes. Elementary education majors ( n = 141) and science education majors ( n = 138) from four teachers' colleges responded to these instruments. The statistical results from the tests revealed that, in general, the basic scientific literacy of first‐year pre‐service teachers was at a satisfactory level. Of the six scales covered in this study, the pre‐service teachers displayed the highest literacy in health science, STS, and life science. Literacy in the areas of the nature of science and earth science was rated lowest. The results also showed that science education majors scored significantly higher in physical science, life science, nature of science, science content, and the TBSL than elementary science majors. Males performed better than females in earth science, life science, science content, and the TBSL. Next, elementary education majors responded with more “don't know” responses than science education majors. In general, the pre‐service teachers were moderately positive in terms of attitudes toward science while science education majors had more positive attitudes toward science. There was no significant difference in attitudes between genders. Previous experience in science indicated more positive attitudes toward science. The results from stepwise regression revealed that STS, the nature of science, and attitudes toward science could explain 50.6% and 60.2% variance in science content in elementary education and science education majors, respectively. For science education majors, the first three scales—the nature of science, health science and physical science—determined basic scientific literacy. However, for elementary education majors, the top three factors were physical science, life science and the nature of science. Based on these results, several strategies for developing the professional abilities of science teachers have been recommended for inclusion in pre‐service programs.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: National Taichung Teachers College, Taiwan

Publication date: 28 October 2005

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