Teachers’ perceptions and attitudes and practical knowledge of inquiry have a substantial impact on the implementation of inquiry-based science instruction in the classroom. Research has shown that teachers have various conceptions of inquiry-based science learning with respect to the intended outcomes and processes that constitute this type of learning. This paper reports on a study which compares pre-service and in-service teachers of Hong Kong regarding their perceptions of inquiry-based learning in science using both quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative data were collected through a 26-item questionnaire administered to 75 pre-service teachers and 203 in-service teachers. The data were subject to exploratory factor analysis to identify the factor structure of the questionnaire items to facilitate the comparison. Five factors were identified, namely (1) Confidence in teaching science concepts, (2) Understanding of inquiry-based science learning, (3) Intention to adopt open-ended inquiry approaches, (4) Perceptions of the nature of science, and (5) Competence in facilitating inquiry-based science learning. Results of independent t-tests show that the mean score of factor (2) for in-service teachers was significantly higher than that for the pre-service group, while the reverse was true for factor (5). No significant differences were observed for the remaining factors. This implies that despite having higher competence in facilitating inquiry-based science learning, pre-service teachers displayed a poorer understanding of this type of learning compared with their in-service counterparts. A closer examination of the results of the individual items within each factor reveals more disparities in perceptions between the two teacher groups. These findings have implications for designing pre-service and in-service teacher training courses in Hong Kong.
|Publication status||Published - Jul 2013|