New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Cross-level Peer Tutoring of Primary Teachers in Science

Maeve Liston, Mary Immaculate College and the NCE-MSTL (National Centre for Excellence in Mathematics & Science Teaching & Learning) (Ireland)


This research involved the design and implementation of a cross-level peer tutoring programme for primary level teachers focusing on the teaching of science. Undergraduate pre-service science teachers in their fourth year of study acted as tutors and mentors to primary school teacher with varying levels of teaching experience. The aims of the research were to investigate if mentoring and coaching of primary teachers by undergraduate science education students can help in the development of their pedagogical knowledge and subject matter knowledge and in turn the teaching of science in Primary schools.

This involved the collection of both quantitative and qualitative data, by the distribution of questionnaires and carrying out interviews both with pre-service science and primary teachers, and in-service primary school teacher.

The main findings of this report were as follows; 1). Many primary teachers currently teaching the primary science curriculum, lack confidence in their levels of subject matter knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge 2). In-service and pre-service primary and second level teachers are unaware and uninformed of the pedagogy and content of science curricula at second and primary level respectively 3). Feedback from the case study teachers and students indicated that the cross level peer tutoring programme was very successful in developing primary teacher’s pedagogical knowledge and knowledge in key scientific concepts and 4). The collegial peer tutoring programme was successful as a strong trusting relationship was developed between the tutor and tutee, where regular feedback and follow-up support was provided placing an emphasis on reflection, joint problem solving, and sharing of expertise and experience.

This research has provided a deeper insight into the needs and supports required by teachers in primary science. The results also highlight different recommendations from primary teachers of possible future supports and collaborations that could be implemented for primary teachers in science.



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