Identifying beliefs held by preservice chemistry teachers in order to improve instruction during their teaching courses
Today, science education demands preparation of scientifically literate people, emphasizing more the process of working with information than owning it. Such a task requires a deep understanding of pedagogical content knowledge by science teachers. This study focuses on revealing the beliefs of prospective chemistry teachers during their teaching preparation in order for them to be confronted and potentially changed. We focused on determining (a) how prospective chemistry teachers comprehend learning, (b) what they target for modification in students’ learning, (c) how they comprehend knowledge, and (d) how they see their role in science education. Q methodology was used to investigate the beliefs of 69 chemistry teacher candidates at all levels of teaching preparation having them rank and sort a series of 51 statements. The analysis showed three types of beliefs concerning science education: (1) active students do inquiry based on a constructivist approach (believed by more experienced and older preservice chemistry teachers), (2) the importance of learning facts and laws by exploring them, and (3) knowledge is the transfer of knowledge from a reliable source to the learner, a transmissive perspective predominantly held by the youngest preservice chemistry teachers. Based on the results, the study identifies particular issues which educators need to be aware of during preservice, preparation studies.