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Project Title An Exploration of a Professional Learning Model for Pre-Service Teachers of Science, Based on Reflective Practice
Project Team Dr John Kenny (SiMERR Tasmania)
Period 2007 – 2008
Funding Agency SiMERR
Organisational Base SiMERR Tasmania


Findings from research on science teaching in primary schools show that “many primary school teachers lack confidence in teaching science.” If this is so, then it is likely that opportunities for pre-service teachers to see good science teaching modelled in classrooms, let alone have an opportunity teach science themselves during their training, will be limited.

In view of the identified lack of confidence of many practising teachers, this raises the potential for mutual learning partnerships to be established, based around teaching science, between the colleague teacher and the preservice teacher. The approach at the centre of this study established a reflective process as the central aspect of learning for the preservice teachers.

Twenty-five final year preservice primary teachers planned and delivered a lesson sequence of a minimum of six lessons. They were placed in 10 different primary schools across northern Tasmania, some quite remote from Launceston.

Data was collected from the pre-service teachers about how successful they thought the program was. This was followed up six months later after the teaching stage by asking the 10 schools to provide feedback about whether there were any long term effects of the science teaching program. Emails and face-to-face interviews were conducted with the principals and the teachers who volunteered to participate.


10 schools, 25 teachers, Department of Education, 25 pre-service teachers, UTAS


From the perspective of the pre-service primary teachers, the project was a resounding success. Most reported a growth in their confidence and willingness to teach science in their classes. A number appreciated the opportunity afforded by the program to actually teach science, an experience that the vast majority of the students had not had in their normal teaching practicum due to a range of pressures in schools and the lack of confidence of most primary teachers with science.

Results from the schools indicate that if a functional partnership approach is established by pre-service teachers and their colleagues, there is a potential for the growth in confidence of both the pre-service and in-service teacher. There is the potential for the approach used to result in a “win-win-win” for the school, the pre-service teacher and the colleague teacher.


Conference presentations

  • Kenny, J. (2007, July). Preparing primary teachers to teach science: A reflective practice based approach. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Australasian Science Education Research Association, Fremantle, WA.
  • Kenny J. (2008, July). Pre-service teachers and In-service teacher working together to teach primary science. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Australasian Science Education Research Association, Brisbane, Queensland.


This project has resulted in a changed approach to the Faculty of Education’s primary science program for pre-service teachers based on reflective practice and teacher partnerships. Negotiations are being made with the Department of Education for more formal arrangements to facilitate the partnership model between in-service and pre-service teachers. Further research is continuing in developing the reflective practice model.

Related documents

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