The Role Of Struggle In Pre-Service Elementary Teachers' Experiences As Students And Approaches To Facilitating Science Learning

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Rachel E. Wilson , Associate Professor (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
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Abstract: Science education researchers are concerned with preparing pre-service elementary teachers (PSETs) to teach in ways that support students to learn science in a meaningful way. Preparing elementary teachers to teach science is complicated given that they tend to be generalists and may not have the same experience with science as secondary teachers. During an elementary science methods course, we explored PSETs’ perspectives on the teaching and learning of science via a case study that included four PSETs. Using Frykholm’s (Journal of Curriculum and Supervision 19:125–149, 2004) framework of ‘educative’ and ‘debilitating’ discomfort, we examined PSETs’ approaches to their own science learning and their approaches to science teaching. A theme apparent in PSETs’ perspectives was struggle. We described ways in which struggle was either educative or debilitating for PSETs, both in terms of their own learning and the ways in which they approached teaching. Some PSETs who struggled in their own learning developed learning experiences to engage their students in reform-based science teaching, while some PSETs developed learning experiences that prevented their students from experiencing any sort of struggle in their learning process. The ways in which these students dealt with their own learning struggles mirrored the ways in which they dealt with their struggles to become teachers of reform-based science instruction. Helping PSETs to deal with their feelings of discomfort with science content or ideas about the nature of science learning and teaching promoted by reform documents may be a key issue in developing their willingness to become facilitators of meaningful science learning.

Additional Information

Wilson, R.E., Kittleson, J.M. The Role of Struggle in Pre-Service Elementary Teachers’ Experiences as Students and Approaches to Facilitating Science Learning. Res Sci Educ 42, 709–728 (2012). Publisher version of record available at:
Language: English
Date: 2011
Teacher education, Elementary Science teaching, Preservice teachers, Reform based teaching, Struggle, Discomfort

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