Date of Award

Summer 2001

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

Department

Education and Human Development

First Advisor

Peter Veronese

Second Advisor

Morris Beers

Third Advisor

Patricia E. Baker

Abstract

The first year of elementary teaching can be overwhelming, often resulting in a decline in teachers’ sense of their own effectiveness. Teaching science in particular can be difficult for newcomers, as they may feel unfit to teach a difficult topic with which they may have little experience. Some researchers have suggested that a research-based rationale, understood as a statement of purpose, strategy, goals, and evaluation, can make teachers more confident and increase their self-efficacy. This paper asks what impact a research-based elementary science teaching (R-BEST) rationale has on a teacher’s first year of teaching elementary science and what improvements could be made with this assessment method at the pre-service level so that the impact can be made greater. The author interviewed first year teachers who completed an elementary science methods course in Fall 1996 to obtain their views on the effectiveness of the R-Best rationale which they had to write to complete the course. Demographic data was collected and participants were asked open-ended questions so they could identify what was most important to them. A majority of respondents thought the assignment of writing and defending an R-BEST rationale paper was beneficial to them and had a strong impact on how they viewed and taught science. A majority of respondents also felt comfortable in teaching science and had high self-confidence.

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