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Early childhood educators' attitudes toward science teaching in Chinese schools.

Background

In recent years, early childhood education (ECE) professionals have moved away from questioning the appropriateness of teaching science to young children; and now they seek to improve the quality of science teaching through better in-service and pre-service training (Sackes & Trundle, 2014). Numerous studies show that science education fosters curiosity and excitement and encourages young children to explore the world around them, making meaningful connections of formal and abstract content with personal experiences and observations (Eshach & Fried, 2005; Metz, 1997; Spektor-Levy, Baruch, & Meverech, 2013). Eshach and Fried (2005) reported that early exposure to scientific phenomena leads to better understanding of the scientific concepts studied later in a formal way and that exposing children to science develops positive attitudes toward science. Therefore, ECE professionals identify science as an "ideal domain for early childhood education" (Bowman, Donovan, & Burns, 2001, p. 209). However, a challenge facing early science education is that ECE teachers often struggle to conduct quality science teaching (Kavalari, Kakana & Christidou, 2012; Sackes, 2014), feel inadequate or lack confidence to teach science. In China, professionals have found a similar pattern that ECE teachers are most reluctant and least confident when it comes to teaching science (Chen, 2007). Examining teachers' attitudes and views toward science teaching is an important first step toward preparing ECE teachers for quality science teaching in preschool classrooms (Maier, Greenfield, & Bulotsky-Shearer, 2013). Most previous research on ECE teachers' attitudes toward science teaching has occurred within an American context prevalently using the Preschool-Teachers' Attitudes and Beliefs toward Science Teaching (P-TABS) instrument (Maier et al., 2013). Due to clear cultural aspects present within Asia, it is necessary to examine Chinese ECE teachers' views about science teaching in preschool classrooms. Also, while the P-TABS instrument has been widely used, in general, it has not been psychometrically evaluated or validated. Using Rasch measurement theory (Andrich, 1988; Rasch, 1960; Wright, 1977, 1999), this study looked at the psychometric properties of the instrument and early childhood teachers' attitudes toward teaching science. By doing so, we aim to strengthen the P-TABS to be a culturally sensitive instrument to assess Chinese preschool teachers' quality of science teaching.

ECE curriculum reform in China: Implications for science teaching

Prior to China's 2001 Ministry of Education's (MOE) announcement of the Guidelines for kindergarten education, all subjects--science, habits and hygiene, physical education, moral education, language, mathematics, art, and music--were taught as a stand-alone subject following a mandated national curriculum framework (MOE, 1981). In other words, preschoolers around the nation were taught based upon the same sets of goals at the same instructional pace to achieve the same learning goals in a systematic manner. Group instruction was the main approach in reaching national science learning goals for preschoolers. It is understandable that teachers trained during that period of time are likely to adopt a formal teacher-centered approach in teaching science.

China's 2001 MOE announcement brought about a paradigm shift toward a child-focused curricula approach for ECE (MOE, 2001). The new goals of kindergarten science education were to promote a scientific spirit and scientific literacy rather than deliver scientific knowledge. The goals were to foster creativity, curiosity, and inquiry abilities. Moreover, "independent inquiry" and "returning to life" became a dominant discourse for preschool science education in China (Liang, 2011). The guidelines proposed that children needed to:
show interests in surroundings, develop curiosity and a thirst for
knowledge, use a variety of senses and hands-on activities in
exploring science concepts; develop appropriate ways to express and
exchange results including love of animals and plants, care for the
environment, a closeness to the nature, cherish natural resources, and
have a preliminary environmental protection awareness
(MOE, 2001, p. 7).


The new guides encouraged a child-centered approach for ECE teaching in general and science teaching in particular. However, many Chinese teachers are constrained by cultural beliefs, resources, and the lack of new ideas on how to implement the five curricula domains (Health, Science, Language, Social studies, and Art) (Pan & Li, 2012). While such constraints persist across all the curricula domains, teachers have reported particular difficulties in teaching science and mathematics to children at the kindergarten level (Yuan & Zhang, 2009). Such difficulties result from a mismatch between new standards and curriculum goals and teachers' existing repertoire of professional knowledge and skills (Yang & Pang, 2009) as well as their attitudes and belies toward teaching children science. As such, understanding Chinese ECE teachers' attitudes toward science teaching is critical to identifying ways to increase their science teaching competence for improving the quality of science teaching.

Psychometrically calibrated measures of ECE teachers' attitudes toward science

There is a lack of psychometric information on Likert scale survey instruments used to survey teacher attitudes. Most researchers use exploratory factor analysis for item retention and raw scores for result interpretations, for example, in Erden and Sonmez (2011) as well as in Maier et al. (2013) for P-TABS. Scores obtained from Likert scale are often assumed to be linear. In fact, as highlighted by Liu and Boone (2006), many attitudinal scales are nominal and ordinal in nature which greatly compromise the use of inferential statistics (e.g. mean, t-test, etc.) which require the interval data to be linear. Studies that use raw scores and inferential statistics do not meet this criterion. Teachers' agreeability and attitudinal item difficulty estimates needed to hold up the invariant relationship for meaningful interpretation; however the two estimates are independent of each other. It is important to note that attitudinal components cannot be measured directly but are revealed from the attitudinal latent trait. Measurement of attitudes does not hold up the invariant expectation which compromises the validity of results. In this context, the current study used the Rasch measurement model to model raw scores into "measures," which are linear in nature and hold up the invariance expectation with teachers and item estimates independently calibrated as below

ln[[P.sub.nij]/([P.sub.nij-1])] = [B.sub.n] - [D.sub.ij]

which says that the log-odds of observed success for person n on item i at partial credit score j is equal to the difference between the estimate B of person n's ability and the difficulty estimate D of item i at rating j (Andrich, 2010; Rasch, 1960; Wright & Masters, 1982). For the current study context, endorsement B of teacher n is estimated independently of attitudinal item difficulty D of item i. This scientific model of measurement belongs to the same class that methodologists consider as defining measurement (Mari & Wilson, 2014).

In this study, we address the following research questions:

1. Does the data collected from P-TABS instrument have good psychometric properties?

2. How do ECE teachers perceive their comfort with planning and demonstrating different science activities?

3. Do ECE teachers perceive science to be developmentally appropriate for young children and do science subjects foster student interest and improve their science skills?

4. How confident are ECE teachers of their capacity as a science teacher and what challenges (e.g. concern regarding their ability and science knowledge, and amount of time needed to do science activities) impeded science teaching?

Methods

Participants

The current study uses data from a three-year longitudinal study of teacher-child interactions in classrooms and children's development in Guangdong, China. Guangdong province is located in southern China with a population exceeding 100 million. In order to capture the wide range of economic development levels across the Guangdong province, a stratified random sampling approach was adopted for selecting these preschools and teacher participants. The 60 preschools in the sample came from three municipalities (Municipality A, B, and C) identified as advanced, average, and below-average levels of economic development. Twenty preschools were randomly selected from each municipality. Within each school, three teachers were identified, with one from each grade level (one level for 3 to 4 years old, one level for 4 to 5 years old, and one level for 5 to 6 years old). The instructional directors of each preschool were includes as participants. The total number of participants was 245, all were female with a mean age of 33.06 (SD=7.49) with an average teaching experience of 11.71 years (SD = 7.75, range from 1 year to 35 years). Twenty percent hold a bachelor or higher degree and 74.3% indicated preschool education was their first major (Table 1).

Measure

The P-TABS questionnaire (Maier et al., 2013) was used to assess teachers' attitudes and beliefs toward science teaching. The P-TABS is a self-reported questionnaire containing 31 items comprising three constructs: Teacher comfort, Child benefit, and Challenge toward Science Teaching. Item agreement is measured using a five-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (Strongly disagree), 2 (Disagree), 3 (Neutral), 4 (Agree) to 5 (Strongly agree). The Teacher comfort construct consists of 14 items that measure teachers' comfort and enjoyment with planning and demonstrating teaching activities across teaching for different science content areas. The Child benefit construct consists of 10 items that measure teachers' attitudes and beliefs with respect to whether science is developmentally appropriate for preschoolers and if ECE in science helps to foster interest in science and improves school readiness. The Challenge construct consists of seven items that measure teachers' concerns over science instructional time, their capability to teach science, and if they possess the necessary science knowledge for conducting science activities. The P-TABS has been shown to have acceptable internal consistency, construct validity, and predictive validity within a Western (US) context (Maier et al., 2013). It has not been previously assessed for its reliability and validity in an Asian (Chinese) context where there are significant operational and cultural differences.

A translated Chinese version of P-TABS was used. Translation of the P-TABS was done using a translation and back-translation process (AERA, NCME, & APA, 2002) by two researchers whose professional background is in ECE and who are fluent in English and Chinese. They worked collectively to assure that the translated Chinese items accurately conveyed the original meaning of the P-TABS items, including sentence fluency for item understanding.

Data collection procedure

This research project was approved by the ethics review boards at the authors' university before any data was collected. All of the participating teachers signed consent letters for the research activities including being observed for classroom teaching in the classroom, completion of study questionnaires: one focused on teaching and children's development, and the other on their demographics and teaching pedagogy. The measure of teachers' attitudes and beliefs toward science teaching was included in the questionnaires. Teachers were invited by the school boards in each municipality to a research meeting where the project and teacher expectations were described. At the end of the meeting, teachers completed the questionnaires. Teachers who could not attend the meeting received the questionnaire from other teachers, completed them independently, and they were collected by the researchers when they visited the schools for classroom observation and child assessment. Distribution and collection of the questionnaires occurred in the period May to June 2015. The limited number of teachers that resigned were replaced by newly hired teachers who consented to participate in the study and completed the questionnaire.

Data analyses

The data was analyzed using a Rasch model with the Winsteps statistical program (Linacre, 2014). Scores for the negatively worded items were reversed coded prior to data analyses. The Rasch model anchored at Rating Scale Model (Andrich, 1978) was used to produce item calibrations (in unit logit). The more negative the value, the greater the agreement, while positive values indicate disagreement.

Results

Findings on psychometric assessment of the instrument

Rasch measurement theory was used to show person and item reliabilities and test whether person and item estimates are reliably calibrated on a common scale in unit logit reflecting confidence levels of Rasch person and item estimates (Bond & Fox, 2015). The person separation informs the replicability of person estimates on a common scale if they were given a similar set of items measuring the same latent trait (Bond & Fox, 2015; Wright & Masters, 1982). The item separation indicates the reproducibility of item estimates on the common scale when administered to a relevant subgroup of respondents (Bond & Fox, 2015). A commonly acceptable lower threshold for the person and item separation indices is 3.0 (Bond & Fox, 2007) or at least 2.0 (Lee, Grossman, & Krishnan, 2008). The present study found a person separation value of 3.10 and an item separation value of 7.03. The results indicate that the person and item estimates reliably replicated on a common scale.

The reliability of the data collected from rating scales is affected by the person usage of the response categories (e.g. Strongly agree, Agree, Strongly disagree) (Boone, Staver, & Yale, 2014). Reliability assessment of category function has rarely been reported in early childhood education research. The Andrich's Rating Scale Model (RSM) can be used to examine the effectiveness of category function (Wright & Masters, 1982). A set of criteria is used to verify the functioning of each response category (Linacre, 2004). The criteria include (a) at least 10 observations for each category (N > 10); (b) average category measures increase monotonically within categories (N(q) increase); (c) the outfit mean square statistic is less than 2.00 (MnSq < 2.00); (d) the category threshold increases monotonically with categories ([[tau].sub.increase]); and (e) there are distinct peaks for each response category probability curve. The results for the instrument used in this study meet all the five categories; there were more than 100 observations for each category (N > 10); the category measures increased across categories (N(q)increase); the outfit mean square for each category reported values was less than 2.00; and the category thresholds increased across categories (Table 2). Each rating category has its distinct peak (Figure 1). These results support the use of the 5-point categories for this instrument (Bond & Fox, 2015).

The property of unidimensionality is a measure of construct validity (Bond & Fox, 2015). In Rasch modeling fit statistics indicate whether the data meets the expectation of the Rasch model. Data that satisfied the expectation of the Rasch model is assumed to be unidimensional and its person and item estimates are estimated independently of one another (Rasch, 1960, 1980). The data fit is assessed by infit and outfit mean square (MnSq); values that lie between 0.60 and 1.40 are regarded as fitting the Rasch model (Wright & Linacre, 1996). The unidimensionality structure of the data can be further scrutinized through principal component analysis (PCA) of residuals (Bond & Fox, 2015). The PCA analysis identifies a secondary dimension (e.g. noises) that compromises the measurement of the latent trait (Linacre, 2014). If a Rasch variance of 50% is explained by Rasch measures and the first contrast of unexplained variance shows a strength of no more than two items in eigenvalues, the noises that affect the data can be considered as not significant enough to distort the measurement of latent trait (Linacre, 2014).

All items with the exception of three fit to the Rasch model. Item 8 from Factor 1 (Teacher comfort) and Item 32 from Factor 3 (Challenges) slightly misfit the Rasch model (Infit and Outfit MnSq values between 0.57 and 1.52). Item 10 from Factor 3 (Challenges) has a larger extent of MnSq misfit (infit = 1.78; outfit = 1.96). High MnSq outfit may be due to a few random responses (e.g. careless mistakes) while high MnSq infit could be due to mistargeting of items on the sampled teachers; the latter has a more negative impact on validity (Masters, 1988). These results prompted us to conduct PCA to further assess the dimensionality of the items. A raw variance of 35% explained by the Rasch measures and the first contrast reported strength of about four items. The result flagged the possibility of multidimensionality.

Figure 2 indicates that all positively worded items (A-K) clustered at the upper plot while all the negatively worded items (a-k) clustered at the bottom. This observation suggests that the unexplained measures could be due to the wording of the items. There is support in the literature which shows that negatively phrased items in surveys introduce some bias (noises) in Rasch measurements (Wang, Chen, & Jin, 2015). This observation suggests that the unexplained variance could be possibly due to the phrasing of the items, and that it is unlikely to distort the measurement of the latent trait.

Findings on ECE teachers' attitudes toward science teaching

The statistics discussed below all come from Figure 3. The sampled teachers enjoyed doing science activities with their preschoolers (Item 26: -0.73 logit), using various classroom materials such as books and toys for the activities (Item 9: -0.90 logit) and collecting materials and objects to use in their teaching (Item 35: -0.67 logit). They use the internet (Item 20: -0.58 logit) and books (Item 11: -0.50 logit) to get ideas for the activities and they discussed ideas and issues of science teaching with their colleagues (Item 8: -0.49 logit). Teachers indicated that they demonstrate experimental procedures (Item 28: -0.41 logit) and include science books during story time (Item 24: -0.25 logit) in their class. They agreed, to a lower extent, that they do not mind the messiness created when doing hands-on activities in the classroom (Item 2: - 0.05 logit). In contrast, they are not comfortable in planning and demonstrating classroom activities for various science topics (Item 13: life science 0.73 logit, Item 34: earth science 0.79 logit and Item 2: physics 0.88 logit) from which they disliked activities related to physical and energy science topics the most.

The two most strongly endorsed statements were that preschool children are curious about scientific concepts and phenomena (Item 31:-1.18 logit) and experimenting hands-on with materials and objects is how young children learn best (Item 6: -1.12 logit). In addition, they agreed that the preschool science activities help foster children's interest in science (Item 1: -0.34 logit) and it is important to have a science area that can be freely explored by children in the classroom (Item 4: -0.81 logit). To a low degree they support the claim that it is not appropriate to introduce science to children at an early age (Item 15r: -0.19 logit), they disagree with the statement that science-related activities help improve preschoolers' mathematics skills (Item 25: 0.21 logit), and they strongly disagreed that more science should be taught in the early childhood classroom (Item 3: 0.54 logit).

All of the statements in the challenges section are negatively worded, for example, "cannot, too difficult, more time, uncomfortable, difficult, afraid, etc." The teachers disagreed with nearly all of the negatively worded challenge statements. In particular, they strongly opposed the claims that preparation for science teaching takes no more time than other subject areas (Item l0r: 2.34 logit) and planning and demonstrating hands-on activities is an easy task (Item 30r: 0.75 logit). They disagree with the statement that they do not have enough materials to do science activities (Item 32r: 0.71 logit) and lack scientific knowledge to teach science to young children (Item 17r: 0.42 logit). They also disagree with the statement that given other demands, there is not enough time in a day to teach science (Item 5r: 0.35 logit). Their low confidence was reflected in statements 27 and 19 where they admitted that they are afraid that children may ask questions about scientific principles or phenomena that they cannot answer (Item 27r: 0.28 logit) and they feel uncomfortable talking with young children about scientific methods such as making hypotheses, predicting, or experimenting (Item 19r: 0.34 logit).

Discussion

The goal of this study was to examine Chinese ECE teachers' attitudes and beliefs toward science teaching using a Rasch model. Rasch analysis of reliability and construct validity from the current study support the claim that the data collected from the P-TABS instrument is reliable and valid to indicate Chinese preschool teachers' attitudes and beliefs toward science teaching. This means the person and item estimates are reproducible on an interval scale if the sampled teachers answer another survey similar to P-TABS and/or if the items are administered to a different group of ECE teachers. In addition, the reliability of the data is supported by the analysis of usage of the 5-response categories and the unidimensionality of the data. The Rasch analysis shows that the data is valid for interpretation of ECE teachers' attitudes and beliefs; though information could be enhanced by avoiding the framing of negatively worded items (Bainer & Smith, 1999). It is well-documented in the literature that the negative wordings of items contributed to "noises" that threatened the measurement of latent traits (Smith, 1996). The latent trait for the current study is ECE teachers' attitudes and beliefs toward science teaching. Given the strong emphasis on children's science learning, our findings lend support for the use of P-TABS to examine the quality of science teaching, as corroborated by Maier et al. (2013) in the US context, since attitudes and beliefs toward science teaching are relevant and important in helping teachers to change their classroom practice to improve the quality of science instruction.

Overall, the teachers' responses to the P-TABS suggested that Chinese preschool teachers are well informed about the importance of teaching science in preschool years, embraced ECE science teaching in the classroom, and their attitudes toward science education are shifting toward a child-centered approach (Liang, 2011; Yuan & Zhang, 2009). Teachers support the use of demonstrated experimental procedures in their science classrooms and report that they enjoyed conducting science activities using a variety of educational materials such as blocks, toys, and boxes and the internet for science learning activities. They communicate with colleagues and creatively sought ideas from their students to enhance their science teaching. They accept the messiness associated with science activities. However, as is well documented in the ECE literature (e.g. Greenfield et al., 2009; Harten & Holroyd, 1997; Sackes, Flevares, Gonya, & Trundle, 2012), Chinese preschool teachers generally lack confidence in science topics, especially those related to physics and energy, and this may have prevented them from planning and demonstrating good activities for these science areas in the classroom (Chen, 2007).

In alignment with ECE teachers in the West (e.g. Erden & Sonmez, 2011; French, 2004), ECE teachers in China strongly believe that children have an innate ability to learn science due to their fascination by and interest in exploring scientific concepts and phenomena evident in daily routines and activities. As such, Chinese ECE teachers believe that hands-on experiments and manipulation with everyday materials is the best way for young children to leam science. Well-designed science activities not only stimulate interests but also helped to foster students' ability to approach problems scientifically. It is encouraging that Chinese preschool teachers supported a child-centered teaching approach as indicated by their belief that allowing children to explore science activities in the classroom is an important component.

Although they supported a child-centered approach to science learning and teaching and demonstrated a profound understanding about how children leam science, they neither support teaching more science concepts in preschool classrooms nor do they believe in its connections to the development of mathematical, language, and social skills--attitudes that may impede them in teaching more science in preschool classrooms. They would have thought learning early academic skills such as literacy and mathematics is deemed more important for children's school readiness than learning science concepts (Li, 2011). Their disagreement with teaching more science concepts through more science-related activities could be also due to their lack of pedagogical content knowledge for science (Yang & Pang, 2009). Such knowledge, according to Yang and Pang (2009), refers to teachers' knowledge about science, child development, teaching methods and strategies in science education, and evaluations of science learning.

This work with Chinese preschool teachers identified a number of challenges associated with teaching science consistent with the work of other researchers in China as reported elsewhere (e.g. Chen, 2007; Liang, 2011). First, they suffer low confidence to teach science as they perceived themselves to have insufficient scientific knowledge (Chen, 2007). It is documented that lack of knowledge about science contributes to teachers' low confidence in teaching science, especially related to physical and energy science (Kavalari et al., 2012; Sackes, 2014). Teachers who struggle with self-efficacy in their abilities to teach science are less likely to create effective science learning opportunities and also lack the ability to provide effective teacher-child interactions and promote critical thinking skills (Harlen & Holroyd, 1997; Sackes et al., 2012). Second, ECE teachers in China do not have sufficient time to prepare and teach science mainly due to overloaded teaching commitments and the perception that science teaching requires more time for planning and preparation. Third, there is lack of resources for use in science activities due to limited amount of materials available for science activities planning (Liang, 2011; Qiao, Zhao, & Zhang, 2015). This is more prevalent in rural areas where there are fewer resources (Lin, 2016). In rural areas, ECE teachers often use a teacher-directed approach and this is less nurturing for children's scientific and critical thinking skills (Liang, Liang, & Dong, 2015).

Limitation, conclusion, and recommendations

The goal of this study was to examine Chinese ECE teachers' attitudes and beliefs toward science teaching. Prior to this, we explored the reliability and validity of the data collected from the 254 teachers. Our study showed that the P-TABS demonstrated good psychometric qualities for Chinese ECE teachers; this is consistent with results validated in the US context (Maier et al., 2013) and by the Rasch model which supports the use of the instrument in measuring teachers' attitudes and beliefs toward science teaching in Chinese preschool classrooms. The Rasch analysis results suggest that the negatively worded items compromised the measurement of the latent trait. We suggest that all of the negatively worded items used in the P-TABS scale be reworded to eliminate the noise associated with negatively worded items.

The results reveal that preschool teachers in China have introduced science into preschool classrooms and the teachers believed that preschoolers are naturally inclined to and interested in scientific activities. This is consistent with pertinent literature from the West (e.g. Eshach & Fried, 2005). Chinese ECE teachers supported child-centered learning experiences that are experimental and engaging of children (Maier et al., 2013) though they are somewhat uncomfortable in planning the learning activities especially those for physical science topics. As documented elsewhere, the ECE teachers report low confidence as a science teacher since they perceived themselves to have inadequate science knowledge, consistent with that reported by Chen (2007). Their low confidence may be directly linked to their perception that they lack adequate science knowledge (Fleer, 2009). However, lack of content knowledge is not the only contributing factor and ECE teacher attitudes and professional training certainly may contribute to a lack of confidence. Due to the survey nature of this study, we are not able to draw cause and effect conclusions. Focus group interviews may be able to shed more light in this regard. We highlight the importance of professional development programs for ECE science teachers to equip them with inquiry pedagogical content knowledge (Yang & Pang, 2009) to increase their confidence in delivering science content.

Declaration of conflicting interests

The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship and/or publication of this article.

Funding

The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

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Pey-Tee Oon

The University of Macau, China

Bi Ying Hu

The University of Macau, China

Bing Wei

The University of Macau, China

Corresponding author:

Pey-Tee Oon, Room 2022, Faculty of Education (E33), The University of Macau, Avenida da Universidade, Taipa, Macau, China.

Email: peyteeoon@umac.mo

DOI: 10.1177/1836939119870890
Table 1. Descriptive statistics of teacher participants' demographic
information.

Demographic info.                     N    Mean   (SD)

Age                                   245  33.06  (7.49)
Years of teaching                     245  11.71  (7.75)
Highest educational level (a)         245   5.32  (1.42)
Major of first educational level (b)  245   1.79  (1.76)

Note: (a) Teachers' highest educational level was a categorical
variable ranging from 1 to 7: 1 = middle school or below (2.4%); 2 =
senior high school (3.3%); 3 = secondary vocational technical school
(1.6%); 4 = secondary normal college (20.4%); 5 = higher vocational
college (16.7%); 6 = college (35.5%); 7 = bachelor (20.0%).
(b) Teachers' major of highest educational level was a categorical
variable ranging from 1 to 7: 1 = preschool education (74.3%); 2 =
education (13.5%); 3 = special education (0.0%); 4 = psychology
(0.0%); 5 = art education (3.3%); 6 = management (1.6%);
7 = others (7.3%).

Table 2. Rating scale analysis results.

                                            Category
            Observed  Outfit  Category      measure,
Category    count, N  MnSq    threshold, T  N(q)

1 Strongly   118      2.03    None          (-3.21)
  disagree
2 Disagree   553      1.18    -1.91          -1.51
3 Neutral   1801      0.87    -0.81          -0.18
4 Agree     3520      0.92     0.28           1.46
5 Strongly  1534      0.93     2.44          (3.62)
  agree

Table 3. Fit statistics and measures (item calibrations) for P-TABS
items Maier et al. (2013).

Factor            Entry number: Item description

1 : Teacher       2: I feel comfortable planning and demonstrating
    comfort       classroom activities related to physical and
                  energy science topics (e.g. force of gravity,
                  gas, liquid, solids).
                  8: I discuss ideas and issues of science teaching
                  with other teachers.
                  9: I use all kinds of classroom materials (e.g.
                  blocks, toys, boxes) for science activities.
                  11: I use resource books to get ideas about science
                  activities for young children.
                  12: I feel comfortable doing science activities in
                  my early childhood classrooms.
                  13: I feel comfortable planning and demonstrating
                  classroom activities related to life science
                  topics (e.g. living things, plants, animals).
                  20: I use the internet to get ideas about science
                  activities for young children.
                  22: I get idea for hands-on activities for what my
                  preschooler do, say, and ask.
                  24: I include some books about science during story
                  time.
                  26: I enjoy doing science activities with my
                  preschool children.
                  28: I demonstrate experimental procedures (e.g.
                  comparing objects to see if they will float or
                  sink) in my classroom.
                  29: I do not mind the messiness created when doing
                  hands-on science in my classroom.
                  33: I make an effort to include some science
                  activities throughout the week.
                  34: I feel comfortable planning and demonstrating
                  classroom activities related to earth science
                  topics (e.g. sun, moon, stars, and weather).
                  35: I collect materials and objects to use in my
                  science teaching.
2: Child benefit  1 : Preschool science activities help foster
                  children's interest in science in later grades.
                  3: More science should be taught in the early
                  childhood classroom.
                  4: It is important for my classroom to have a
                  science area that can be freely explored by children.
                  6: Experimenting hands-on with materials and objects
                  is how young children learn best.
                  7: Science-related activities help improve
                  preschoolers' approaches to learning.
                  14: Science-related activities help improve
                  preschoolers' math skills.
                  15 (r): It is not appropriate to introduce science
                  to children at early age.
                  16: Science-related activities help improve
                  preschooler's language skills.
                  25: Science-related activities help improve
                  preschoolers' social skills.
                  31: Young children are curious about scientific
                  concepts and phenomena.
3: Challenges     21 (r): Young children cannot learn science until
                  they are able to read.
                  23 (r): Science-related activities are too difficult
                  for young children.
                  5 (r): Given other demands, there is not enough time
                  in a day to teach science.
                  10 (r): Preparation for science teaching takes more
                  time than other subject areas.
                  17 (r): I do not have enough scientific knowledge to
                  teach science to young children.
                  18 (r): I feel uncomfortable using scientific tools
                  such as scales, rulers, and magnifying glasses with
                  teaching science lessons.
                  19 (r): I feel uncomfortable talking with young
                  children about the scientific method (e.g. making
                  hypotheses, predicting, experimenting).
                  27(r): I am afraid that children may ask me a
                  question about scientific principles or phenomena
                  that I cannot answer.
                  30 (r): Planning and demonstrating hands-on science
                  activities is a difficult task.
                  32 (r): I do not have enough materials to do science
                  activities.

Note. (r) indicates negatively worded items.


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Title Annotation:Article
Author:Oon, Pey-Tee; Hu, Bi Ying; Wei, Bing
Publication:Australasian Journal of Early Childhood
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Dec 1, 2019
Words:6439
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