Sowing the Seeds for Equity in Science Education: A Cross Case Mixed Methods Study of Pre-Service Elementary Teachers and Their Self-Efficacy Related to Equitable Science Teaching

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Bentley, Lillian, Education - School of Education and Human Development, University of Virginia
Tai, Robert

This dissertation investigated the self-efficacy of pre-service elementary teachers concerning equitable science education. The investigation was conducted over two phases, in the autumn of 2022 and the spring of 2023, utilizing the Self Efficacy Beliefs About Equitable Science Teaching (SEBEST) instrument (Ritter et al., 2001) and interviews for data collection. The SEBEST instrument assesses pre-service elementary educators' self-efficacy in delivering science education equitably to a diverse student population, encompassing variations in race/ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, language proficiency, and gender. The study disseminated surveys within five teacher education programs in a Mid-Atlantic State, employing a pre-survey/post-survey design within the context of elementary science methodology courses. Ninety-seven participants completed the survey.
The study used a parallel convergent mixed methodology, which included quantitative and qualitative data that was collected and analyzed separately and then merged in a final discussion section. Quantitative examination investigated the association between the demographic characteristics of the field placement environments (characterized by the school-level racial/ethnic composition of the student body, the percentage of students receiving free or reduced lunch, the percentage of students classified as English language learners, and the percentage of females) and the preservice elementary teachers' responses on the SEBEST survey. The additional quantitative analysis examined the association of teacher education coursework experiences in explicit Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion courses and participants' responses on SEBEST survey measures. The qualitative analysis included interviews with eight pre-service elementary teachers and investigated participants' conceptualizations of equitable science instruction. Methodological integration occurred in the discussion phase of this work.
Results indicated a significant association between participants' self-efficacy related to equitable science teaching and the number of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion courses included in their teacher education program experiences. Additionally, there were significant associations between the predictor variables of the race (white ) of pre-service elementary teachers and the demographics of their field placement experiences on the outcome variable of post-SEBEST survey scores. The qualitative analysis demonstrated multifaceted conceptualizations of equitable science within a continuum of understanding. The integration of methodologies in the discussion exposed additional nuances to this work. This research contributes to and broadens the existing body of knowledge regarding the impact of educational experiences within teacher training programs on pre-service elementary teachers' perceived competence and assurance in facilitating equitable science education.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
pre-service elementary teachers , science self-efficacy, equitable science instruction
Sponsoring Agency:
US National Science Foundation (NSF DRL 1811265 and NSF REC 0440002)
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