Pre-Service Elementary Teachers’ Scientific Literacy and Self-Efficacy in Teaching Science

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Adam Al Sultan, Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, Saudi Arabia
Harvey Henson, Jr., Southern Illinois University, USA
Peter J. Fadde, Southern Illinois University, USA
Published: February 28, 2018

Citation: Al Sultan, A., Henson Jr. H., & Fadde, P. J. (2018). Pre-Service Elementary Teachers' Scientific Literacy and Self-Efficacy in Teaching Science. IAFOR Journal of Education, 6(1).


Many educators and educational institutions worldwide have agreed that the main goal of science education is to produce a scientifically literate community. Science teachers are key to the achievement of scientific literacy at all levels of education because of the essential role they play in preparing scientifically literate individuals. Studies show that pre-service elementary teachers need to build more confidence in teaching science and scientific literacy during their teacher education programs in order for them to successfully teach science knowledge to their students. Therefore, the purpose of this study is threefold. First, pre-service elementary teachers' scientific literacy levels were examined. Second, pre-service teachers' self-efficacy beliefs were measured by distinguishing between their personal and subject-specific self-efficacy beliefs. Third, the extent to which pre-service elementary teachers' scientific literacy levels and self-efficacy levels are related was investigated. Participants were 49 pre-service elementary teachers registered in two science methods courses (introductory and advanced) at a mid-sized university in the United States. Quantitative data were collected using the Test of Basic Scientific Literacy, the Science Teaching Efficacy Belief Instrument-Preservice, and Beliefs about Teaching. Results showed that participants had a satisfactory level of scientific literacy. However, pre-service teachers had borderline scores on the Nature of Science scale. Regarding self-efficacy, findings showed that both groups had the highest self-efficacy in teaching biology and the lowest in teaching physics. Participants in the advanced science methods course exhibited a moderate preexisting positive relationship between scientific literacy and subject-specific self-efficacy in teaching science.


elementary education, pre-service teachers, scientific literacy, self-efficacy