South African Journal of Education

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Exploring student teachers’ views of science process skills in their initial teacher education programmes

Leonard Molefe, Michelè Stears, Sally Hobden


The South African secondary school curriculum emphasises the importance of science process skills in its respective natural sciences curricula. The purpose of this study was to explore the views of student teachers with regard to the importance they attach to these skills. A 14-item questionnaire was administered to 75 third- and fourth-year student teachers registered for a Bachelor of Education degree. A small qualitative component was included with a view to identifying selected skills embedded in practical activities the students found interesting. Statistical analysis of the students’ responses to the questionnaire items revealed that they rated most skills as important for student teachers to acquire in their teacher education programmes. When asked to identify most important and least important skills for them to acquire personally, the findings were slightly different. With regard to analysis of the students’ responses to practical activities, student teachers found interesting, observing and interpreting emerged as key skills. These findings point to indirect influence of their teacher educators’ praxis, hence the recommendation to explicitly state the skills included in practical activities offered along with an explanation of how particular skills may be acquired.

Keywords: initial teacher education programmes; practical activities; science process skills; student teachers
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