Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education

First Supervisor

Associate Professor Geoffrey Lummis

Second Supervisor

Dr Julia Morris


The effectiveness of science teaching in primary school is dependent upon teachers’ self-efficacy to teach science. Low self-efficacy has been linked to avoidance of teaching primary science; therefore, preservice teacher self-efficacy requires fostering to have graduates keen to teach primary science. Through an embedded mixed method intrinsic-case study, this research explored the impact of postgraduate preservice primary science education on students’ self-efficacy. This research examined the postgraduate students’ self-efficacy as the lens to determine the effectiveness of the design and pedagogical instruction of the unit and its tutors. Data sources included the use of pre/post surveys encompassing the Science Teaching Efficacy Belief Instrument (STEBI-B) (administered to 370 preservice teachers), pre/post focus group discussions by 35 preservice teachers, staff interviews, tutor selfreflections and researcher tutorial observations.

The study found preservice teachers’ science teaching self-efficacy was influenced through complex interactions including the design of the unit, tutor involvement, peer persuasion, home life, social media and a sense of entitlement. It was also found that as this was a post-graduate cohort, many students had fostered a positive disposition towards scientific literacy, due to life experiences. The analysis found that tutors’ unique style of teaching, explicit or implicit instructional techniques, their teaching background, science content and pedagogical content knowledge, the emotional climate set within their tutorials were found to influence preservice teachers’ science teaching self-efficacy. The research found there to be significant variances between tutors’ effect sizes from very small (Cohen’s d = 0.11) to medium-large (Cohen’s d = 0.62) for the constructs of personal science teaching efficacy and the science teaching outcome expectancy beliefs. The interactive design of the unit and assessment types were found, through focus groups, to be a positive factor affecting preservice teachers’ general self-efficacy. Investigation into the science learning backgrounds and type of science learners, found these factors additionally affected the science teaching self-efficacy constructs of preservice teachers. Preservice teachers also identified the use of social media as an additional factor of their general learning selfefficacy. Implications for the development of preservice teacher primary science v education programs, tutor professional development and future research are discussed in the thesis.


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