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Undergraduate Research Journal

Keywords

STEM education, Self-efficacy, Inquiry-based learning, Elementary education, science instruction

Abstract

From an early age, teachers should expose students to high-quality STEM education to allow them to explore and discover phenomena. In order to prepare students, teachers must be able to assist students and facilitate the inquiry process. Unfortunately, elementary teachers often have low self-efficacy regarding inquiry-based science and resort to instruction that is not supported by research. A survey was given to third through fifth grade teachers at a small, suburban, mid-western school district to measure their self-efficacy regarding inquiry-based science. The teachers responded to questions that asked them to rank themselves on several skills that are required to teach inquiry-based science. The teachers also shared short-answer responses regarding the adoption of a new science curriculum. These responses indicated that the teachers felt that they needed more time to implement the new curriculum effectively. Overall, the teachers tended to have high self-efficacy, but their responses revealed a need for additional training and professional development. Subsequent training should be frequent, grade-level specific, and allow for open conversation. Districts should also be flexible in implementation in order to relieve pressure and allow teachers to focus on student understanding rather than the systematic completion of lessons.

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