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International Journal of STEM Education





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Background: The Next Generation Science Standards (2013) put a special emphasis on engineering for K-12 science education. However, a significant number of elementary teachers still feel unprepared to integrate engineering into their science programs. It is, therefore, incumbent upon science educators to update their elementary science methods courses to accommodate engineering especially in the states which adopted the NGSS. In this study, we taught an engineering unit in an elementary science teaching methods course to examine what instructional components and learning experiences provided in the engineering unit enhance teachers’ engineering teaching self-efficacy beliefs. Our research questions addressed to what extent the engineering education intervention improved pre-service teachers’ engineering teaching efficacy beliefs and what instructional components and learning experiences served as sources of self-efficacy contributing to the improvement of pre-service elementary teachers’ engineering teaching efficacy beliefs. We also explored how pre-service teachers viewed the relative importance of the sources of teaching efficacy stemming from the engineering unit.

Results: The participants comprised 84 pre-service teachers enrolled in an elementary education program at a public university in the Southwestern United States. Data obtained from the Engineering Teaching Efficacy Beliefs Instrument (ETEBI) indicated that the pre-service teachers’ personal teaching efficacy beliefs significantly improved after the engineering intervention; however, the engineering intervention had a small impact on teachers’ engineering teaching outcome expectancy beliefs. Written reflections used to explore the sources of engineering teaching efficacy and the relative importance of each source showed that cognitive content mastery and cognitive pedagogical mastery were the major sources of engineering teaching self-efficacy among the pre-service elementary teachers.

Conclusion: Our study illustrated that integrating engineering design activities with explicit-reflective instruction on the nature of engineering concepts could enhance pre-service teachers’ personal engineering teaching efficacy beliefs even though a relatively small impact was observed in their engineering teaching outcome expectancy beliefs. Also, the study indicated cognitive content mastery and cognitive pedagogical mastery were the most important sources of engineering teaching efficacy. Therefore, the study suggests that it is vital to integrate a variety of mastery and vicarious experiences in methods courses to support the development of teachers’ engineering teaching efficacy beliefs. Besides, the current study could provide an example for integrating engineering education in methods courses.


Mixed methods research; P-12 engineering, Pre-service elementary teachers; Self-efficacy; Sources of self-efficacy


Science and Mathematics Education

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