Date of Award:

12-2019

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Advisor/Chair:

Lisa Boyce

Co-Advisor/Chair:

Aryn M. Dotterer

Third Advisor:

Shirlene Law

Abstract

Science experiences during the preschool years is important because it helps build brain development in children, and improves school readiness. This exploratory study examined several characteristics of teachers and classrooms to see if any factors predicted time spent on science. Over 120 teachers participated, with teachers from Head Starts, university child development laboratories, home-based preschools, and other private preschool programs.

Findings suggest that preschool teachers are quite comfortable with teaching science, but science activities are reported to occur infrequently—one to three times a month. Teachers with higher levels of education and comfort levels with science are reported to be more likely to spend time on science. Additionally, comfort levels with science had the greatest impact on time spent on science after accounting for teacher and classroom demographics. These results suggest that helping teachers feel more comfortable teaching science should be an important target for professional development practices and preservice education.

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