UNDERSTANDING PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS’ VIEWS OF SCIENTISTS

Date

2023-05-19

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Abstract

Background: The stereotypical image of scientists as White men wearing laboratory coats and glasses who usually work indoors alone and do secretive things has been pervasive around the world, which impacts a variety of issues, including the lack of student interest in science and science-related career choices and has a negative influence on the development of a scientifically literate society. Students, teachers, and pre-service teachers are known to hold similar stereotypical views of scientists as well. Teachers’ own negative views of scientists transfer to their students in the classroom. It is essential to ensure students develop an accurate image of scientists since it is challenging to change stereotypes, and ensuring that educators possess accurate views of scientists could be an important step. Undergraduate education has a significant impact on shaping teachers’ views. Thus, it is essential for teacher candidates to form accurate views of scientists to impart to their future students. Purpose: This study aims to understand how pre-service teachers viewed scientists by examining their drawings, investigating how the findings compare to the previous results, and revealing what influenced how pre-service teachers viewed scientists by examining their written responses. Methods: This study adopts Creswell’s concurrent triangulation mixed methods design that examines Draw-a-Scientist-Test (DAST) results and open-ended responses from 45 pre-service teachers, 43 of whom consisted of females. Each participant was tasked with creating a drawing of a scientist using the DAST and writing an explanation for their drawing and a reflection of what influenced their drawing as part of their course assignment. Participants’ drawings were quantified using the Draw a Scientists Checklist (DAST-C), and written responses were analyzed utilizing the constant comparative method to identify recurring themes. Results: The analysis revealed that more than half of the participants portrayed scientists as White men wearing laboratory coats, surrounded by laboratory equipment, and working alone in laboratories conducting experiments, typically chemical experiments. However, there were more depictions of female scientists and fewer portrayals of eyeglasses and elderly scientists compared to the previously reported results. The analysis of participants’ written responses revealed five themes that influenced how pre-service teachers depicted scientists in this study, including school/classroom experiences, the media, teachers as role models, famous scientists, and the literature. Conclusion: The findings indicated that pre-service teachers still hold various degrees of stereotypical views of scientists. To make a meaningful conceptual change among pre-service teachers’ views of scientists, science teacher education programs should make necessary curricular changes to employ more hands-on and inquiry-oriented activities, purposefully bring attention to female scientists and focus on the multicultural aspect of scientific knowledge production, and familiarize students with other branches of science that are outside the conventional areas.

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Keywords

Science education, Pre-service teachers, Views, Scientists

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