Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning


This study examined the relationships between previous school and life experiences of pre-service elementary school teachers at the University of North Dakota and their attitudes toward science and science teaching.

The study incorporated both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. The first six pre-service teachers from one of the science methods class who volunteered were selected for taped private interviews. Based on this information a quantitative survey (Sampson Survey I) was designed for discovering the relationship between past experiences of pre-service teachers and their current attitudes toward science and teaching science. Additionally, the Shrigley Science Attitude Scale (Shrigley, 1974b), which assesses attitudes toward science, was given to two science methods classes (57 students) enrolled at the University of North Dakota during the fall semester, 1990. The population for the surveys was not randomly selected from all the science methods classes offered at the University of North Dakota; therefore, the results of the research apply only to the one setting where the research was conducted and may not be transferable to students at other universities.

Forty-one of pre-service elementary teachers had confidence in their general science knowledge, 70% to teach the life sciences, 58% to teach ecology, 53% to teach earth sciences, 46% to teach space sciences, and 28% to teach physical sciences. The most important antecedent for a positive attitude toward science was the memory of how a particular science was taught to the students. The correlations indicate that confidence in the physical sciences (chemistry, physics) is more school-oriented than in the other branches of science. Science acquired outside of school arouses interest and curiosity in science, especially life sciences. There were significant correlations (p $<$.01) between those with confidence in their general science knowledge and in their ability to teach all sciences, and those who believe anybody can be a scientist. A significant correlation (p $<$.01) was found between having confidence to teach all sciences and the deliberate practice of reading articles about science to stay informed. The study indicated that the qualitative and quantitative data show similar patterns and relationships.