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Abstract

Ethnographic research methodologies were used to examine the training of elementary education majors in science in an attempt to gain insight on whether or not their training in science contributes to the apprehension elementary teachers have toward science. The field study consisted of 14 weeks of weekly observations in the elementary education majors science methods class. Interviews with the students and the instructors as well as survey instruments to assess students' preparation in science were used. Two different approaches to the study of science, one content oriented, the other process oriented, may contribute to the students' confusion, insecurity, and avoidance of science. The students' perception that science is learning content, an objective of introductory level science courses, and the science methods class's objectives of teaching science as a process sets up an “antagonistic dilemma” between the two. Such “antagonistic dilemma” may be manifest in the lack of instructional time accorded to science by elementary educators. The type of science experiences an individual encounters influences their perceptions. To offset student perceptions developed in science courses which stress principally content, the students need science experiences which truly represent science as inquiry. New strategies for the training of elementary education majors in science need to be examined.