Science education research interests of elementary teachers

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Abstract

Science education researchers have always sought to improve the quality of our nation's schools. One way of doing this is to make research findings on the teaching of science available to teachers. Perhaps an even more effective way is to plan research studies with teachers' interests in mind. The purpose of this study was to determine the science education research interests of elementary teachers and to examine the data according to certain demographic variables. The sample consisted of 553 elementary teachers in 98 schools from across the nation. The survey instrument contained 28 items, 16 of which were included on a survey instrument prepared by White et al. The data collected using the Likert-type questionnaire were dichotomized as “1” important and “O” not important and were analyzed using the Cochran Test and the McNemar Test for post hoc comparisons. Results of the study indicate that the top five research interests of teachers in the order of preference are: hands-on experiences, science content of the curriculum, cognitive development and learning styles, problem solving, and teaching strategies. The area of lowest interest was research on sex differences.

Results of the survey have several important implications for science education. First, they can be used to help science educators plan research that may be of interest to elementary teachers. Second, they can be used by groups such as NSTA who publish research reviews, and by colleges and universities that prepare elementary teachers, as a guide to not only what is of interest to elementary teachers, but to identify those areas of research for which dissemination has been lacking.

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