Confidence and Perceived Competence of Preservice Teachers to Implement Biodiversity Education in Primary Schools-Four comparative case studies from Europe
Constantinou, Constaninos P.
SourceInternational Journal of Science Education
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This multinational research study was carried out between 2004 and 2006 in four teacher education institutions in Cyprus, England, Switzerland, and Germany. With the help of a written questionnaire, the confidence and perceived competence of preservice primary teachers (N = 690) to deliver biodiversity education in school were investigated. Data were triangulated with findings from a previous stage of the overall research project. Study participants' confidence to carry out certain outdoor activities in school increased with the number of similar experiences they had during their own secondary school education, and the more personal classroom experiences they had during their teacher education. A sound knowledge of local wild organisms strongly added to their confidence. However, preservice teachers' perceived competence, and thus motivation to implement biodiversity education later on in school, was related even more strongly to the extent of preparation they had received during their teacher education. The results indicate that teacher education programmes that focus exclusively on filling (biodiversity) knowledge gaps might fail to raise confidence and competence in their students to carry out biodiversity education in school. Programmes that have a higher possibility of attaining effectiveness in biodiversity education seek to strike a balance between background knowledge development, pedagogical content knowledge, and opportunities during teaching practice that leads to experiential gains in enacting meaningful activity sequences and engaging students in holistic educational innovations. Within such programmes, it would be fruitful to further explore the relationship between confidence, perceived competence, and actual teaching performance.