Confidence is Key: Investigating Preservice Teacher's Self-Efficacy of Teaching STEM
Before becoming educators, most preservice teachers must complete a teacher preparation program (TPP) in which they learn both the content they will teach and the pedagogical skills necessary to deliver it to their students. It is important that future educators feel prepared to lead their students because science teacher self-efficacy is related to science teaching outcomes. This pilot study measured preservice elementary, early childhood, and special education teacher’s self-efficacy of teaching STEM, and which courses influence these beliefs. To address this question, preservice elementary, early childhood, and special education teachers were surveyed at three points in their program: (a) before content and methods courses, (b) after content courses but before methods, and (c) after content courses and methods. Survey questions inquired about participant’s confidence in teaching math and science, expectations of teachers and students in the classroom, and STEM career awareness. Analysis of the data suggests no significant difference (p>0.05) in pre-post content and pre-post methods course outcomes except on the Science Teaching Outcome Expectancy (STOE) construct. These results suggest preservice teachers have a fixed mindset about their teaching abilities in many respects. However, a science methods course is suggested to increase self-efficacy in teaching science. This further exemplifies the idea that teachers provide better instruction when they are more confident in both their subject material and the effective pedagogy associated with that content area.