The relationship between attitude and anxiety toward teaching science in pre-service elementary teachers and the use of Science Olympiad events

Allison Armstrong Downing

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between the anxiety and attitudes of pre-service elementary teachers toward teaching science and the use of Science Olympiad events in an elementary science methods course. The participants were 34 pre-service elementary teachers enrolled in the Winter 2010 and Spring 2011 trimesters in the course Science in the Elementary School at a private university in south Mississippi. Attitude toward teaching science was measured using the Revised Science Attitude Scale. Anxiety was measured using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (Form Y). Data collection involved participants taking pretests for attitude and state anxiety on the first class meeting and then posttests for attitude and anxiety on the last class meeting of the course. The collection of qualitative data occurred throughout the classes through video recording groups of participants while they were engaged in Elementary Science Olympiad events. Dependent t-tests were used to compare preattitude and postattitude as well as prestate anxiety and poststate anxiety. Results of the statistical analysis of preand postattitude scores indicate a statistically significant difference in students' attitudes toward teaching science. Students had significantly higher attitude scores upon completion of the course. Results of the statistical analysis of pre- and poststate anxiety scores also indicate a statistically significant difference in students' anxiety toward teaching science. Students had significantly lower anxiety scores upon completion of the course. These results suggest that the use of Science Olympiad events in an elementary science methods course is beneficial to promoting science teaching in the elementary classroom.