Original Research

Foundation phase science teacher identity: Exploring evolutionary module development to promote science teaching self-efficacy

Leslie F. Meiring
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 9, No 1 | a603 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v9i1.603 | © 2019 Leslie F. Meiring | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 November 2017 | Published: 21 August 2019

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Leslie F. Meiring, Faculty of Education, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

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Background: The South African national school curriculum for the foundation phase (6- to 9-year-olds) does not have a unique subject called ‘science’, but ‘hidden’ away in the subject ‘life skills’, one detects a great deal of science, but not all of it overtly presented. This presents a challenge to teachers who might be limited in their science content knowledge and lack understanding of the processes of science, both of which might contribute to low levels of science teaching self-efficacy.

Aim: This article explores an evolutionary module development process designed to promote science teaching self-efficacy.

Setting: Pre-service foundation phase student teachers taking a single method module in science.

Methods: The study is anchored within the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). On completion of the module, student teachers complete anonymous module-evaluation questionnaires. An interpretive, qualitative approach is used to support discussion of the module’s principles, content and delivery within the context of module development.

Results: Data originate from two cohorts of student teachers (2011 and 2014). These data inform lecturers’ decisions on the re-development of the module for the following year. The intervening years (2012–2013) saw the module being firmly anchored on three pillars, namely teacher identity, science teaching self-efficacy and the nature of science.

Conclusion: This article outlines the evolution of a pre-service foundation phase science module, from a science-content-only module (2006) through to a module whose underpinning principles and content attempt to address the hopes, fears and challenges faced by prospective foundation phase teachers.


science teacher identity; self-efficacy; foundation phase science teaching; nature of science; scientific enquiry


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