Variations in Primary Teachers’ Responses and Development during Three Major Science In- Service Programmes

  • Tina Jarvis
  • Anthony Pell
  • Philip Hingley
Keywords: IBSE, In-service, Investigative-based science education, Motivation, Primary education


This paper reports on how different types of teachers responded to in-service aimed at developing investigative-based science education (IBSE) in primary schools, and the extent to which they applied their new skills in the classroom. Common items from evaluation questionnaires allowed data to be combined from three major in-service programmes. Using complete data sets from 120 teachers, cluster analysis enabled three teacher types to be identified: a small group of ‘science unsures’, with low attitude scores and little confidence, who showed no response to the innovation; ‘holistic improvers’, who showed the largest improvement in science teaching confidence; and ‘high level, positive progressives’, who were very positive to science teaching throughout and showed gains in confidence in teaching
physics and chemistry, as well as in demonstrating the relevance of science to their pupils. Taking account of these teacher types alongside interviews and observations, nine  developmental stages in how teachers apply their new expertise in the classroom and the whole school are suggested. Major factors influencing application in the classroom are the teachers’ initial science knowledge and pedagogical expertise, and motivating feedback to teachers when pupils responded positively to the innovation. Assessing teachers’ initial level of subject knowledge and science pedagogical expertise to inform the approach and amount of in-service provision is important. Subsequent mentoring as well as support from the school principal when teachers first try IBSE with pupils promotes successful implementation
in the classroom. 


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