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A Case Study on Pre-service Science Teachers’ Assessment of Some Teaching Science Courses at the Faculty of Education, Lebanese University

Suzanne El Takach
American Journal of Educational Research. 2018, 6(9), 1318-1325. DOI: 10.12691/education-6-9-12
Received August 05, 2018; Revised September 17, 2018; Accepted October 07, 2018

Abstract

The present case study examined pre-service teachers’ attitudes towards 6 courses taught in 3rd till 6th semesters at the Lebanese University, the Faculty of Education, during the academic year 2016-2017. They also assessed science teaching courses that are essential for preparing future teachers to teach science to primary and elementary pupils. These courses were: Action Research I and II in Teaching Science, New trends in Teaching Science, Teaching Science I and II. All of those courses are taken by pre-service teachers majoring in elementary science education, and Teaching Science for Early Childhood Education, recently referred to as primary education. Qualitative and Quantitative Data were gathered from a) a survey questionnaire consisting of 16 items; some were of Likert scale type that aimed at collecting students’ opinions on courses, in terms of teaching, assessment and class environment. The sample consisted of 67 pre-service teachers, who filled 105 questionnaires and b) pre-service science and mathematics teachers’ reflections (N=35) in their last semester in Science and Mathematics, in order to know more about their opinions of teaching science courses for teacher preparation at the Faculty of Education, their skills gained and for improving the present curriculum of science education. Pre-service teachers were satisfied with science teaching courses and they have admitted that they gained a good pedagogical content knowledge, such as, lesson planning, use of various teaching and assessment strategies, and how to do action research in a science class.

1. Introduction

Many studies emphasized the importance of students’ assessment in higher education 1, 2 for achieving quality assurance in science education 3 and measuring teaching quality in higher education 4, while other studies lessen students’ evaluation of teaching or SET 5, 6, 7. But at the end, there is no doubt that assessing courses by students at the Faculty would give a better overview of the needs of students and the gaps in teaching.

Moreover, it is vital in science education to know more about students’ beliefs about gained skills, in order to compare with national and international standards for teacher preparation. For instance, the National Science Teachers Association supported the importance of early experiences in science so that students develop problem-solving skills that empower them to participate in an increasingly scientific and technological world 8. To reach this goal, this association emphasized on teacher preparation and professional development, that a) must enable the teacher to implement science as a basic component of the elementary school curriculum. And b) must provide experiences that will enable teachers to use hands-on activities to promote skill development, selecting content and methods appropriate for their students, and for design of classroom environments that promote positive attitudes toward science and technology. In addition, the NSTA Elementary school science instruction must reflect the application and implementation of educational research. Elementary school science programs are improved when:

a. teachers keep abreast of appropriate science education research.

b. educational research becomes the premise for change or innovation in elementary school science, and teachers participate in action research in elementary science.

On the national level, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE) and the Centre for Educational Research and Development (CERD) in Lebanon, released in 2017, a report on the teacher référentiel de compétence or competency framework 9. This framework classified the teacher profession into four domains: specialized professional practices, professional relations, continuous professional development and professional ethics. The MEHE stressed on the required teacher profession to facing challenges of the 21st century and its priorities as well as reaching the teaching quality assurance.

I have been teaching the Science Methodology Courses since 2005 at the Faculty of Education and in 2010 the Faculty of Education, Lebanese University has implemented the LMD Program 10, 11. Lately, the Faculty of Education is in the middle of reforming the current Faculty curriculum. In addition, I took the responsibility as the head of the Science and Mathematics Department at the Faculty, between the academic years 2015-2016 and 2016-2017. I had the goal with the board of the department to assess the department courses.

To continuously update my skills as a teacher of the courses under study, I found it vital to ask students to assess courses I’m currently teaching. These six courses were: Action Research I and II in Teaching Science, New trends in Teaching Science, Teaching Science I and II. All of those courses are taken by students majoring in elementary science education, and Teaching Science for Early Childhood Education and primary education. Hence, the research questions are the following:

1. What is the overall assessment of pre-service teachers about their science teaching courses, at the Faculty of Education, Lebanese University?

2. How do preservice teachers assess each of the courses researched in this study?

3. What are the skills acquired by these pre-service teachers?

4. Do the acquired skills, mentioned by the pre-service teachers, match the learning outcomes of these courses?

5. What are science pre-service teachers’ reflections, in their last semester, about elementary teacher preparation?

2. Method

The present research is case study and descriptive in nature. Two questionnaires were used in order to collect qualitative and quantitative data. These questionnaires were developed, piloted and adopted by the board of the Science and Mathematics department 12. Data entry was assured by the IT personnel of the Faculty of Education, and data validation was assured through peer review as the board regular meetings.

2.1. Participants and Procedure

During 2016-2017, for English sections, pre-service teachers majoring in science and mathematics, early childhood education, enrolled in the 3rd, 5th and 6th semesters, took part of this study, at the Faculty of Education, Branch I..

The first questionnaire aimed at collecting pre-service teachers’ assessment towards the science teaching courses. A sample of 67 students filled in 105 questionnaires. The second questionnaire was administered to pre-service teachers in their last semester, in order to collect their overall views about the present teacher preparation and their reflections about the science and mathematics teaching courses. Both questionnaires were distributed during the last week of each semester of Years 2 and 3. By that time, pre-service teachers would have undergone the required formative assessment for each course and would have formulated a clear idea of the content of each course. The first questionnaire was formed of 23 items, 21 items were of Likert scale, and 2 items were open-ended questions.

The second questionnaire was made of 8 questions; four of them were closed-ended, while four questions were open-ended questions.

The first sample consisting of pre-service teachers present at the day of the questionnaires administration was:

Science students in 5th semester= 6 (New Trends in Science Education)

Science students in 5th semester= 5 (Action research I)

Science students in 6th semester= 8 (Action research II)

Science students in 3rd semester= 16 (Teaching Science I)

Science students in 4th semester= 16 (Teaching Science II)

Early Childhood Education students in 3rd semester= 23 (Teaching Science for ECE)

Math students in 5th semester= 18 (Teaching Science I)

Math students in 6th semester= 15 (Teaching Science II)

The total number of filled questionnaires is= 105 out of the sample= 67 students.

3. Results and Discussion

This section gives details of data coded and analyzed, according to pre-service teachers’ assessment of the course in terms of, teaching, evaluation and class environment.

3.1. Results Related to Research Question1

Figure 1 depicts pre-service attitudes towards the courses. More than 82% admitted that the teacher used various teaching strategies and 91.73% pointed out positively about the modes of course evaluation. In addition, 93% benefit very much of the courses. All agreed that they knew from the beginning of the semester, the course objectives and procedure (Table 1).

More details are presented in Table 1.

3.2. Results Related to Research Question 2

In Table 2, pre-service teachers showed very positive attitudes towards teaching science courses in the 3rd, 4th and 5th Semesters.

As for science pre-service teachers, they were highly satisfied with learning the core courses related to their major: these courses were New Trends in Teaching Science, Action Research I and Action Research II. Table 3 highlights in details their attitudes towards the three courses.

3.3. Results Related to Research Questions 3 and 4

In this section, the courses syllabi as well as the pre-service teachers’ acquired skills are displayed.


3.3.1. New Trends in Teaching Science

General Objectives

• Recognize new trends in instructional strategies and assessment procedures in science teaching.

• Document and demonstrate research studies in relation to recent issues and trends in the teaching of science.

• Engage in professional development activities.

Intended Learning Outcomes

• Develop and implement instructional strategies that promote the development of critical thinking and problem solving.

• Modify or develop instructional activities and teaching strategies in response to the changing conditions of the learning situation.

• Seek out professional literature, colleagues, and other resources to support their development as learners and as teachers.


Skills gained by pre-service teachers in New Trends in Teaching Science

Pre-service teachers’ skills are the following:

I have learned how to analyze a research article.

I learned new strategies to teach science.

I learned about new teaching tools, e.g., teaching science with technology.


3.3.2. Action Research I

General Objectives

• Developing skills in analysis of qualitative quantitative research in education in general and science education in particular.

• Develop skills in the development of data collection instruments for use by researchers and teachers of science education, mathematics education and education in general.

• Developing skills in designing, conducting and analyzing action research projects in schools and classrooms.

Intended Learning Outcomes

• The procedures for designing and conducting action research projects.

• Design and conduct action research projects aiming at improving teaching practices.

• Apply statistical techniques and procedures for analyzing action research projects.


Skills gained by pre-service teachers in Action Research I

I learned how to read and analyze a research article.

I learned how to make a research article and organize it.

I can now analyze a research article and write a plan to

perform action research.

I know how to write a proposal for an action research.


3.3.3. Action Research II

General Objectives

• Conducting the action research project prepared in “Action Research I”.

• Analyzing data and reporting results.

Intended Learning Outcomes

• Conduct action research project aiming at improving teaching practices.

• Apply statistical techniques and procedures for data analysis.

• Write up the research report.

• Present action research results.


Skills gained by pre-service teachers in Action Research II

I learned how to do action research.

I have acquired the ability to deal with students with various and modern ways, and to face difficulties I can encounter with students.

Now I can make any study related to what we took and we know how to categorize the data, and analyze them.

I learned to implement intervention in schools.

I learned how to find problems and ways to solve such problems, to do an action research.


3.3.4. Teaching Science I

General Objectives

• Demonstrating knowledge of how people learn and how to apply this information in teaching science.

• Understanding and identifying the different misconceptions held by elementary level students concerning scientific ideas and concepts and how they affect their learning.

Intended Learning Outcomes

• Describe the learning theories that present a rationale for using different teaching strategies in science classes.

• Identify students’ scientific misconceptions.

• Discuss the relative advantages and disadvantages of the various modes of instruction.

• Develop lesson plans using a variety of teaching strategies.


Skills gained by pre-service teachers in Teaching Science I

I gained skills in research and development of my abilities in addition to the love of work.

I learned about several teaching methods based on learning educators and theorists.

I liked the class project and how we were assessed.


3.3.5. Teaching Science II

General Objectives

• Developing the knowledge and skills needed to create a classroom instruction based on relevant science teaching strategies.

Intended Learning Outcomes

• Understand the different teaching strategies and techniques used in the teaching of science at the elementary level.

• Plan science lessons that are consistent with current trends in science education using appropriate strategies and techniques.


Skills gained by pre-service teachers in Teaching Science II

I learned how to deal with students and how to make a lesson plan.

I learned different teaching strategies and how to put skills for science activities.

I learned how explaining in the classrooms.

I learned about cognitive, social and affective skills for children I will teach.

The content of the course will make us professional teachers that have enough skills and strategies while we are teaching.

I learned how to teach science and I learned lots about teaching strategies, we will use it in our teaching when we graduate.

I am now able to assess students and to use various and relevant teaching strategies.


3.3.6. Teaching Science for Early Childhood Education

General Objectives

• This course prepares students to plan, prepare, and implement appropriate lesson plans for ECE Lebanese science curriculum for preschoolers.

• This course aims to motivate early childhood student teachers to see science as a part of their everyday lives and encourage them to nurture young children’s curiosity and natural desire to learn about the environment. It will also help early childhood student-teachers to develop positive scientific attitudes and acquire a functional understanding of basic scientific skills, concepts and principles.

Intended Learning Outcomes

• Define the components of curriculum: philosophy, goals, lesson planning and activities planning.

• Identify the role of curriculum planning in early childhood education programs.

• Create appropriate lesson plans for 3-8 year olds.

• Create appropriate learning activities for 3-8 year olds; including, but not limited to science, math, and social studies.


Skills gained by pre-service teachers in ECE in Science Teaching

I gained new skills in teaching science for this stage.

I learned how to explain a science lesson.

I gained self-confidence during the lesson explanation in a real class setting.

I have gained new experiences, skills and science concepts.

I learned many skills such as the skills of communicating and dealing with students.

I have benefited greatly because early childhood education because I gained important scientific concepts and different teaching methods I can use in the future.

I learned how to deal with children and how to teach scientific concepts for children.

I learned about class management not only as a material to study.

In this course I benefit more because we made our own lesson plans, activities, lesson explanation... Plus we even saw the work of other students which gave us more ideas.

I learned to be creative in explaining lessons in new ways.

I found that I could prepare a lesson with attention to small details and I learned how to prepare a lesson with the goals and appropriate methods.

I have benefited from many of the activities and lessons that we have prepared and presented in class.

I learned about learning theories and lesson plan.

I learned about the importance of science in our practical days.

I learned how to explain a lesson and how to prepare a lesson in an effective way.

Thank you for giving us an opportunity to express our opinion and to evaluate the course.

In sum, the acquired skills match the different science teaching syllabi.

3.4. Results Related to Research Question 5

Pre-service teachers in their last semester reflected on the science teaching courses and their preparation as future teachers. They wrote their reflections to the following questions: what courses did you like: why? And what skills you find that they have improved or developed at the end of this semester?

Skills at the end of Teacher Preparation

Table 4 and Table 5 summarize science and mathematics pre-service teachers’ reflections and their skills acquired at the end of their teacher education program. Note that many pre-service statements present in the tables were frequent more than once.

Science Students 6th Semester (N=16)

Mathematics Students in 6th Semester (N= 19)

4. Conclusion and Future Research

The present case study scrutinized in depth the courses of science teaching I am currently teaching at the Faculty of Education, Lebanese University. It presented pre-service teachers reflections and overall assessment of these courses: Action Research I and II in Teaching Science, New trends in Teaching Science, Teaching Science I and II and Teaching Science for Early Childhood Education. Results showed that participant pre-service teachers were very satisfied with the content of these courses, because it helped them in developing the necessary pedagogical content skills as future science teachers in the primary and elementary levels. Moreover, pre-service science and mathematics teachers found very relevant the teaching science and mathematics courses to their career, they could realize the importance to excel the use of technology for their career.

Stark and Freishtat have made eight recommendations for student evaluation of teaching or SET (p.6) 13; some of these recommendations were to:

(1) pay careful attention to student comments—but understand their scope and limitations. Students are the authorities on their experiences in class, but typically are not well situated to evaluate pedagogy generally.

(2) avoid comparing teaching in courses of different types, levels, sizes, functions, or disciplines.

(3) use teaching portfolios as part of the review process.

(4) use classroom observation as part of milestone reviews.

(5) improve teaching and evaluate teaching fairly and honestly, spend more time observing the teaching and looking at teaching materials.

My future research is to make a follow up of the graduated science teachers, in order to seek what are their needs in their actual teaching, how they are teaching and their professional satisfaction. I also will research whether the skills developed by pre-service teachers during their teacher preparation, match the set of the ministry standards skills as proposed by the Lebanese MEHE and CERD report 9.

Acknowledgments

I thank my students in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th semesters in majors Science, Mathematics and Early Childhood Education, who took actively part of this study during the academic 2016-2017.

References

[1]  Rennert-Ariev, P. (2005). A theoretical model for the authentic assessment of teaching. Practical Assessment Research & Evaluation, 10(2).
In article      
 
[2]  Stitt-Bergh, M. (2015). Three Frameworks for Successful Learning Outcomes Assessment. Conference: The Second International Conference for Assessment and Evaluation at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
In article      
 
[3]  Akinbobola, A. O. & Ikitde G. A. (2008). Strategies for Achieving Quality Assurance in Science Education in Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria, African Research Review, Vol 2, No 3, pp. 146-159.
In article      View Article
 
[4]  Goos, M. & Salomons, A. (2014). Measuring Teaching Quality in Higher Education: Assessing the Problem of Selection Bias in Course Evaluations, Utrecht School of Economics, Tjalling C. Koopmans Research Institute, Discussion Paper Series 14-16, [accessed] http://www.uu.nl/rebo/economie/discussionpapers.
In article      View Article
 
[5]  Campbell, J.P (2005). Evaluating Teacher Performance in Higher Education: the Value of Student Ratings. Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 438. http://stars.library.ucf.edu/etd/438.
In article      View Article
 
[6]  Hornstein, H.A. (2017). Student evaluations of teaching are an inadequate assessment tool for evaluating faculty performance, Cogent Education, 4: 1304016.
In article      View Article
 
[7]  Feistauer, D., & Richter, T. (2017) How reliable are students’ evaluations of teaching quality? A variance components approach, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 42:8, 1263-1279.
In article      View Article
 
[8]  National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). www.nsta.org [accessed] on 23.5.2017.
In article      View Article
 
[9]  Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE) and the Center for Education and Research Development (CERD) Report (2017).
In article      
 
[10]  Lebanese University Website. Science Teaching Courses Syllabi. www.ul.edu.lb/faculte/branches.aspx?facultyld=7.
In article      View Article
 
[11]  The Supreme Committee for the Development of Curricula and Programs (n.d). A Power Point on: نظام التدريس الجديد في الجامعة اللبنانية Retrieved from www.ul.edu.lb [11 July 2018].
In article      View Article
 
[12]  El Takach, S., Rawas, M., & Dokmak, M. (2018). Evaluation of the Undergraduate Program in Higher Education: the case of the Science and Mathematics Department at the Faculty of Education, Lebanese University. Manuscript submitted for publication.
In article      
 
[13]  Stark, P. B., & Freishtat, R. (2014). An evaluation of course evaluations. AOFRQA.v1Stark. Retrieved from Science Open: https://www.scienceopen.com/document/vid/42e6aae5-246b-4900-8015-dc99b467b6e4?0.
In article      View Article
 

Published with license by Science and Education Publishing, Copyright © 2018 Suzanne El Takach

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Cite this article:

Normal Style
Suzanne El Takach. A Case Study on Pre-service Science Teachers’ Assessment of Some Teaching Science Courses at the Faculty of Education, Lebanese University. American Journal of Educational Research. Vol. 6, No. 9, 2018, pp 1318-1325. http://pubs.sciepub.com/education/6/9/12
MLA Style
Takach, Suzanne El. "A Case Study on Pre-service Science Teachers’ Assessment of Some Teaching Science Courses at the Faculty of Education, Lebanese University." American Journal of Educational Research 6.9 (2018): 1318-1325.
APA Style
Takach, S. E. (2018). A Case Study on Pre-service Science Teachers’ Assessment of Some Teaching Science Courses at the Faculty of Education, Lebanese University. American Journal of Educational Research, 6(9), 1318-1325.
Chicago Style
Takach, Suzanne El. "A Case Study on Pre-service Science Teachers’ Assessment of Some Teaching Science Courses at the Faculty of Education, Lebanese University." American Journal of Educational Research 6, no. 9 (2018): 1318-1325.
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  • Table 2. Students’ attitudes towards the courses for 3rd, 4th and 5th Semesters Courses (Science and Mathematics, Early Childhood Education)
[1]  Rennert-Ariev, P. (2005). A theoretical model for the authentic assessment of teaching. Practical Assessment Research & Evaluation, 10(2).
In article      
 
[2]  Stitt-Bergh, M. (2015). Three Frameworks for Successful Learning Outcomes Assessment. Conference: The Second International Conference for Assessment and Evaluation at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
In article      
 
[3]  Akinbobola, A. O. & Ikitde G. A. (2008). Strategies for Achieving Quality Assurance in Science Education in Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria, African Research Review, Vol 2, No 3, pp. 146-159.
In article      View Article
 
[4]  Goos, M. & Salomons, A. (2014). Measuring Teaching Quality in Higher Education: Assessing the Problem of Selection Bias in Course Evaluations, Utrecht School of Economics, Tjalling C. Koopmans Research Institute, Discussion Paper Series 14-16, [accessed] http://www.uu.nl/rebo/economie/discussionpapers.
In article      View Article
 
[5]  Campbell, J.P (2005). Evaluating Teacher Performance in Higher Education: the Value of Student Ratings. Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 438. http://stars.library.ucf.edu/etd/438.
In article      View Article
 
[6]  Hornstein, H.A. (2017). Student evaluations of teaching are an inadequate assessment tool for evaluating faculty performance, Cogent Education, 4: 1304016.
In article      View Article
 
[7]  Feistauer, D., & Richter, T. (2017) How reliable are students’ evaluations of teaching quality? A variance components approach, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 42:8, 1263-1279.
In article      View Article
 
[8]  National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). www.nsta.org [accessed] on 23.5.2017.
In article      View Article
 
[9]  Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE) and the Center for Education and Research Development (CERD) Report (2017).
In article      
 
[10]  Lebanese University Website. Science Teaching Courses Syllabi. www.ul.edu.lb/faculte/branches.aspx?facultyld=7.
In article      View Article
 
[11]  The Supreme Committee for the Development of Curricula and Programs (n.d). A Power Point on: نظام التدريس الجديد في الجامعة اللبنانية Retrieved from www.ul.edu.lb [11 July 2018].
In article      View Article
 
[12]  El Takach, S., Rawas, M., & Dokmak, M. (2018). Evaluation of the Undergraduate Program in Higher Education: the case of the Science and Mathematics Department at the Faculty of Education, Lebanese University. Manuscript submitted for publication.
In article      
 
[13]  Stark, P. B., & Freishtat, R. (2014). An evaluation of course evaluations. AOFRQA.v1Stark. Retrieved from Science Open: https://www.scienceopen.com/document/vid/42e6aae5-246b-4900-8015-dc99b467b6e4?0.
In article      View Article