The impact of professional learning on science teaching efficacy : a case study of one New Zealand primary teacher : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master in Education (Teaching and Learning) at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Despite the introduction of a new science curriculum in 2007, focused on developing scientific literacy, New Zealand primary school students have continued to lose interest in science, and perform poorly compared to other countries (Bolstad & Hipkins, 2008; Mullis et al, 2016). A lack of confidence in teaching science has been identified as a contributing factor to primary schools failing to deliver high quality science teaching and learning which may explain students' lack of interest and performance in science. This study focusses on exploring the impact of three concurrent, professional development programmes, on one primary teacher's nature of science teaching efficacy. This professional development includes a combination of a scientist-teacher partnership, enactive mastery experiences, in-class mentoring, and a professional learning community. A qualitative case study design was employed, with data collected using adapted forms of both the Nature of Science as Argument Questionnaire, and the Science Teaching Belief Instrument, semi-structured interviews and classroom observations. The thematic analysis revealed changes in the teacher's nature of science beliefs, classroom practice, and identity, as well as his leadership efficacy. Overall, the study found that the professional learning opportunities had promoted the teacher's developed personal efficacy and outcome expectancy for teaching the nature of science, with the support of instructional leadership within his school. The opportunity for critical reflection was found to be beneficial for developing the teacher's informed view of the nature of science. The study recommends that productive professional development needs to enable primary teachers to make connections to their personal and professional identities, what they know, and what they are interested in, in order to develop their nature of science pedagogical content knowledge.