New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Investigating the Effect of Scientist Demonstrators on Primary Children’s Science Self-Efficacy

Sarah Carroll, National University of Ireland Galway (Ireland)

Veronica McCauley, National University of Ireland Galway (Ireland)

Muriel Grenon, National University of Ireland Galway (Ireland)


Emergent in the literature is the need to increase levels of student engagement in science, with informal science education (ISE) playing a fundamental role. Whilst children find science to be interesting and important to society, children can view science as difficult and not “for them”. Science Self-Efficacy (SSE) is the self-belief an individual has in their own abilities to perform scientific tasks successfully in a given context. As low self-efficacy can cause individuals to withdraw from tasks that are perceived as difficult, then increased self-efficacy may improve a child’s science motivation. Currently, there is limited extant SSE research focusing on primary school children. Furthermore, children’s SSE has not yet been explored in the Irish context, nor has the influence of scientists on SSE been investigated. Due to the recent rise in ISE initiatives aiming to increase children’s motivation and interest in science, it is necessary to inform providers of informal science education of best practices regarding their influence on children’s SSE. This work will describe the methodology that will be used in a study exploring the influence that scientist demonstrators in ISE activities has on primary school children’s SSE. This methodology employs a mixed-methods approach featuring a pre-post quasi-experimental design. Quantitative pre- and post-intervention data is collected via a novel questionnaire to measure children’s (aged 10-13) SSE beliefs and their sources in the Irish primary school context. Qualitative data is collected through a randomly selected sample of children interviews and via recorded observations of the classroom intervention. In addition to providing a novel science-specific questionnaire to measure children’s SSE in the Irish context, this research will also aid to inform existing and future ISE initiatives as well as advancing literature on science self-efficacy theory and research methodologies. The pilot results and preliminary findings of the study using this methodology will be presented at this conference.

Keywords: Science self-efficacy, informal science education, science outreach, primary school research, mixed methods;


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