REFINEMENT OF THE TSI INSTRUMENT FOR INQUIRY SCIENCE
Edgar P. Yoder,
Given what is known about the interrelatedness of beliefs and practice, and the lack of attention placed on investigating how self-efficacy may impact teacher practice, the purpose of this study was aimed at further investigating the situation specific construct of self-efficacy to include the teaching of science as inquiry. Participants included 310 preservice elementary teachers. Analysis revealed that self-efficacy has a strong influence on outcome expectancy. Given the ideas of social learning theory, one implication from this study supports current research efforts calling for inquiry science courses for preservice teachers. If preservice teachers can experience success within a science methods course, they may then model effective instruction within their own elementary classroom, which in turn may promote the success of their elementary students in the area of science.
Self-efficacy has become a common construct of interest within educational research. This interest in self-efficacy is a result of the causal relationship existing between beliefs and practice. Although self-efficacy has been studied in general contexts (e.g., Berman & McLaughlin, 1997; Gibson & Dembo, 1984), Bandura (1977) asserts that self-efficacy is a situation specific construct. As such, this study is aimed at further investigating the situation specific construct of self-efficacy to include the teaching of science as inquiry.
Science as Inquiry
Currently, inquiry is a major theme within the context of educational reform. In December 1995, the National Research Council (NRC) released the National Science Education Standards (NSES), which indicate “a vision of science education that will make scientific literacy for all a reality in the 21st century” (p. ix). Subsequently, in 1996 the National Research Council released the National Science Education Standards (NSES). Within these standards, scientific inquiry is seen as an integral component for restructuring science education. As schools restructure to meet the goals that lie ahead, it is important to acknowledge the importance of self-efficacy in meeting these standards.
Scientific inquiry “refers to the diverse ways in which scientists study the natural world and propose explanations based on the evidence derived from their work” (National Research Council, 1996, p. 23). Inquiry learning “refers to the activities of students in which they develop knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, as well as an understanding of how scientists study the natural world (p. 23). Inquiry teaching is defined as “providing a classroom where learners engage in scientific oriented questions to formulate explanations based on evidence” (p. 29).
For the purposes of this research, we will be using the definitions set forth by the National Research Council (2000). Specifically, our definition draws upon The Essential Features of Classroom Inquiry as the essence of inquiry, particularly the notion of giving priority to evidence and explanation. The Five Essential Features of Classroom Inquiry are as follows:
1. Learner engages in scientifically oriented questions
2. Learner gives priority to evidence in responding to questions
3. Learner formulates explanations from evidence
4. Learner connects explanations to scientific knowledge
5. Learner communicates and justifies explanations (p. 29)
These essential features distinguish between how inquiry is practiced by scientists and inquiry as a means for teaching and learning science.
Given the centrality of beliefs as a vehicle for understanding teacher practice, it is helpful to draw on the work of Bandura (1977; 1982; 1986; 1997). Much of what is known about self-efficacy can be credited to Bandura (1977; 1981; 1982; 1986; 1997). The construct of self-efficacy is grounded in social learning theory and consists of two dimensions: personal self-efficacy and outcome expectancy. Personal self-efficacy is defined as “a judgment of how well one can execute courses of action required to deal with prospective situations” (Bandura 1982, p. 122). Outcome expectancy on the other hand, is defined by Bandura (1977) as “a person’s estimate that a given behavior will lead to certain outcomes (p. 193). Bandura (1982) asserts that behavior is best predicted through examination of both self-efficacy and outcome expectancy beliefs.
Self-efficacy is a powerful construct that is said to have strong predictive power over performance and behavior. In fact, Bandura (1977; 1986) asserts that self-efficacy beliefs play a critical role in human agency. How people behave can often be more accurately predicted by their self-efficacy beliefs rather than what they are actually capable of accomplishing (Bandura, 1977; 1986). Specifically, higher levels of perceived self-efficacy correlate to greater levels performance accomplishments (Bandura 1982, p. 127-128).
Efficacy beliefs also have an impact on the amount of effort, persistence and resilience an individual will expend when engaging in an activity. “The stronger the perceived efficacy, the more likely are people to persist in their efforts until they succeed” (p. 127-128). “People with high assurance in their capabilities in given domains approach difficult tasks as challenges to be mastered rather than as threats to be avoided” (Bandura, 1995, p. 11). These people set themselves challenging goals and maintain strong commitment to them. They heighten and sustain their efforts in the face of difficulties” (p. 11). “People who have a low sense of efficacy in given domains shy away from difficult tasks, which they view as personal threats. They have low aspirations and weak commitment to the goals they choose to pursue” (p. 11). “They slacken their efforts and give up quickly in the face of difficulty” (p. 11). In short, higher self-efficacy results in more effort, persistence, and resiliency.
Furthermore, “judgments of one’s capabilities partly determine choice of activities and rate of skill acquisition…” (Bandura, 1982, p. 128). Hence, an individual’s level of perceived self-efficacy can contribute to and impact the events in their lives. Individuals tend to “designate tasks that they judge they can do and their degree of certainty” (p. 124). People engage in tasks in which they feel confident and avoid tasks in which they do not. “Unless people believe they can produce desired effects by their actions, the have little incentive to act” (Bandura, 1997, p. 3)
Beliefs have the possibility of impacting the quality of teaching and student learning (Lumpe et al., 2000). Self-efficacy is expected to influence teacher behaviors. “Efficacy beliefs of teachers are related to their instructional practices and to various student outcomes” (Pajares, 2002, Self-efficacy, motivation, & academic achievement – the research section, para. 4). Self-efficacy can influence a teachers choice of instructional methods, the amount of effort they will put toward teaching, and the amount of persistence they will exude when difficulties are experienced. Therefore, careful examination of self-efficacy and its influence over teacher behavior should be conducted.
The importance of self-efficacy lies in the effect it is presumed to have over behavior, as it is hypothesized to influence an individuals’ choice of activities (Schunk, 1984; Bandura, 1977). As a result of the importance of beliefs in predicting future behavior, this study attempts to begin to investigate the interplay between self-efficacy and teacher practices related to the teaching of science as inquiry.
Self-Efficacy and Science Education
A recent survey conducted by Horizon Research (Fulp, 2002) reported “Grades K-5 self-contained classes spend an average of 25 minutes each day in science instruction, compared to 114 minutes on reading/language arts…” (p. 11). This variance existing in instructional time is shocking and extremely problematic considering the expectations put forth by the National Science Education Standards. It is crucial for researchers to address the possible reasons for this disparity of instruction if we are to achieve the goal of “…scientific literacy for all…” (NRC, 1995, p. ix).
One possible reason that less instructional time is devoted to teaching science can be explained by self-efficacy. The NSES suggest that teacher beliefs about science have bearing on their teaching behaviors and that “All teachers have implicit and explicit beliefs about science, learning, and teaching” (NRC, 1996, p. 28).
It is often reported that elementary teachers do not feel confident teaching science (Martin, 2000; McDevitt, Heikkinen, Alcorn, Ambrosio & Gardner, 1993; Tobin, Briscoe, & Holman, 1990; Weiss, 1994; Young & Kellog, 1993). As a result of this finding, teachers often avoid teaching science within our elementary schools. Fulp (2002) noted that fewer than 3 in 10 elementary teachers feel prepared to teach science as compared to 77% of teachers feeling qualified to teach reading/language arts. When compared to the actual instructional time given to these domains, it is clear that these findings support the notion that the likelihood of elementary teachers teaching a given content area may be largely related to their self-efficacy.
Research indicates the importance of self-efficacy in shaping elementary teachers’ likelihood to teach science (Weld, & Funk, 2005). Consequently, self-efficacy has been studied from multiple perspectives within science education (Aston, Buhr, & Crocker, 1984; Gibson & Dembo, 1984; Riggs, 1988; Enochs & Riggs, 1990; Enochs et al., 1995; Tschannen-Moran, Hoy, 2001). This study, however, is unique in that it investigates the self-efficacy of preservice teachers in relation to the teaching of science as inquiry.
The potential to improve the likelihood of elementary teacher to teach science as inquiry often begins with teacher preparation programs. Teacher educators must provide prospective elementary teachers opportunities to experience the learning of science as inquiry. “Prospective teachers who have not experienced the tone and substance of scientific inquiry in meaningful ways cannot be expected to catalyze in their students what the teachers themselves have never actually experienced” (Barnes & Spector, 1999, p. 4).
Research often investigates the ways in which teacher preparation programs can assist preservice teachers in developing positive self-efficacy beliefs. This area of research is important because educational practices may validate an individual’s sense of efficacy, especially those educational experiences which promote success. These types of practices therefore, could thereby sustain the effort the individual will expend thereby leading to further increases in the individual’s self-efficacy (Schunk, 1984; Bandura, 1977). Teachers who have a low sense of efficacy may tend to avoid the teaching of science whereas, those with a high sense of efficacy may engage in the teaching of science more often. Furthermore, those with high sense of efficacy may expend more effort when teaching science as compared to teachers with a low sense of efficacy (Schunk, 1984; Bandura, 1977).
As a result of this research, it is our hope that we will be able to more fully understand the construct of self-efficacy and possibly improve the self-efficacy beliefs of preservice teachers. In doing so, we may begin to change the low priority that science instruction typically maintains in our elementary schools.
This study examines the reliability of the TSI instrument and its subscales as well as the self-efficacy beliefs of preservice teachers in regard to the teaching of science. Additionally, we begin to investigate the relationship between self-efficacy and outcome expectancy. Furthermore, binary logistic regression analysis was used to assess the relative influence of self-efficacy and gender on outcome expectancy. In this study, we report the results of our efforts to further refine the TSI instrument and report the relationships among self-efficacy, outcome expectancy and gender.
This study represents descriptive correlational research involving undergraduate students enrolled in a science methods course. The TSI instrument was administered to a total of 310 prospective elementary school teachers in ten sections of a science methods course for preservice elementary teachers, during the fall 2003 semester and the spring 2004 semester.
In order to assess the reliability of the TSI instrument and its sub-scales using data secured from the prospective elementary teachers, a coefficient alpha was used. In regard to self-efficacy, the results were (alpha = .93 for pre-test and .91 for post-test). The results for outcome expectancy were alpha = .89 for pre-test and .91 for post-test).
Analysis of data
was completed using binary logistic regression analysis and basic descriptive
statistics. Basic descriptive statistics included relative frequencies,
percentages, and correct classification indices. Measures from the logistic regression analysis
included logistic regression coefficients, standard errors, the Wald value, and
the Exp(B) value from the
Data were collected from preservice elementary
education teachers during their senior year at a central
Data was obtained using the Teaching of Science as Inquiry (TSI) Instrument (Smolleck, Zembal-Saul, & Yoder, in press). The TSI was developed using a 13-step process and was based on the work of Bandura (1977; 1982; 1986), Riggs (1988) and Enochs & Riggs (1990). Based on the instrument development processes and associated data analysis, the TSI has been judged to be a content and construct valid instrument with high/moderate internal reliability and high/moderate test-retest reliability qualities for assessing prospective elementary teachers self-efficacy beliefs with regard to the teaching of science as inquiry. Specifically, the two dimensions of self-efficacy measured using the TSI are personal self-efficacy and outcome expectancy as defined by Bandura (1977).
The TSI is a 69-item instrument designed to assess preservice teachers self-efficacy beliefs in relation to the teaching of science as inquiry. Specifically, the teaching of science as inquiry is defined using The Five Essential Features of Classroom Inquiry described by the National Science Education Standards (NRC, 2000) a.) Learner engages in scientifically oriented questions, b.) Learner gives priority to evidence in responding to questions, c.) Learner formulates explanations from evidence, d.) Learner connects explanations to scientific knowledge, and e.) Learner communicates and justifies explanations (p. 29).
According to the National Science Education Standards, within each of The Five Essential Features of Classroom Inquiry, there are distinctions that can be labeled as variations within a continuum of inquiry experiences. To determine whether an experience is categorized as full or partial inquiry, one must refer to the amount of student and teacher involvement. Partial inquiries have greater teacher involvement and less student involvement whereas full inquiries have greater student involvement and less teacher involvement.
Examination of the descriptive statistics indicates the mean and median values demonstrated a slight positive change for self-efficacy and outcome expectancy from round one (beginning of the semester) to round two (end of semester). Specifically, the self-efficacy mean value for round one was 3.74 and for round two was 4.04. The outcome expectancy mean value for round one was 3.65 and for round two was 3.92 .
Binary Logistic Regression analysis was used to assess the relative influence of self-efficacy and gender on outcome expectancy. The mean split was used to classify preservice teachers into two groups. Those below the mean were classified as lower outcome expectancy preservice students and those above the mean were classified as higher outcome expectancy preservice students.
In both round one and round two, gender was not a significant factor in determining whether a preservice teacher had higher or lower levels of outcome expectancy. The data reveals that higher levels of self-efficacy are associated with higher levels of outcome expectancy. For a one point (unit) increase in self-efficacy, the odds of being in the high outcome expectancy group increased by 1.11 for round one. For round two, a one point (unit) increase in self-efficacy, the odds of being in the high outcome expectancy group increased by 1.20. Further examination the results for both round one and round two reveal Nagelkerke r2 values of .331 and .479 respectively. The Nagelkerke value indicates the variance in the dependent variable (outcome expectancy) explained by the independent variables (self-efficacy and gender) in the equation.
Specifically, results indicate that for both round one and round two, when gender and self-efficacy are examined together, gender of the student has no significant influence on the outcome expectancy (p > .565). However, self-efficacy has a very strong influence on outcome expectancy (Exp(B) = 1.11; p < .001). The trend is that those participants with higher self-efficacy values demonstrate a higher outcome expectancy value. This finding is consistent with Bandura’s (1982) notions of self-efficacy and outcome expectancy.
Logistic regression results for the extreme 25% uppercases (75th percentile or higher) of outcome expectancy and the extreme 25% lowercases (25th percentile or lower) for outcome expectancy were examined. For both round one and round two, the results indicate that when gender and self-efficacy are examined together, gender of the student has no influence on the outcome expectancy. However, self-efficacy has a very strong influence on outcome expectancy. The data indicate that individuals with higher levels of self-efficacy tend to have higher levels of outcome expectancy (Exp(B) = 1.36; p = <.001)
Although various researchers have set out to improve teacher education in admirable ways, few of these attempts have involved the relationship between self-efficacy beliefs and practice. Recalling Bandura’s (1977, 1986, 1995) assertion that self-efficacy beliefs have a powerful influence over one’s behavior, it is important for teacher educators to further investigate the influence of teacher beliefs on classroom practice.
This study shed more light on the situation specific construct of self-efficacy, while including the teaching of science as inquiry. Theory purports that individuals tend to act according to their beliefs. Bandura (1977, 1986, 1989, 1995, 1997) asserts that the decisions people make and the associated actions are a direct result of one’s beliefs. Hence, the beliefs that teachers hold concerning the teaching of science as inquiry are at the core of educational change.
As teacher educators, we have the potential to provide preservice teachers with successful inquiry science experiences. This is an important content area to include in teacher education programs as research supports that if teachers are expected to teach science as inquiry, they themselves must first experience success with learning science as inquiry. “If preservice teachers have personal success learning science, they will then be more confident to teach it” (Bleicher & Lindgren, 2005, p. 206). Based on the idea of Bandura’s social learning theory (1977), if preservice teachers can experience success within a science methods course, they may then model effective instruction within their own elementary classroom, which in turn may promote the success of their elementary students in the area of science. “Individuals who lack confidence in skills they possess are less likely to engage in tasks in which those skills are required, and they will more quickly give up in the face if difficulty” (Pajares, 2002, Encouraging intertheoretical crosstalk and collaboration section, para. 3).
Although self-efficacy is important in understanding behavior, this does not denote that a person can achieve something simply because they believe in themselves. An individual must possess a balance between the beliefs, skills and knowledge they possess in order to successfully accomplish a given task (Pajares, 2002). This creates a rationale for the importance of teacher preparation programs that highlight the teaching of science as inquiry.
If we want teachers to teach science as inquiry, they must possess the knowledge and skills necessary to do so, however, they must also possess positive self-efficacy as well. Knowledge is not enough, for it is an individuals beliefs and/or perceptions that may be more likely to influence subsequent behavior. “Knowledge, competence, and various forms of self-knowledge and self-belief act in concert to provide adequate explanations of behavior” (Pajares, 2002).
The crucial question for teacher preparation programs then becomes, “How does self-efficacy relate to actual teaching behavior?” This study has begun to answer this multifaceted question by discovering that self-efficacy has a very strong influence on outcome expectancy. In fact, the trend of participants reporting higher self-efficacy values also demonstrating higher outcome expectancy values is consistent with the assertion that self-efficacy beliefs have a powerful influence over one’s behavior. To address this issue more thoroughly, we are currently investigating the potential predictive validity of the TSI.
We strongly agree with the current research efforts that call for further investigation of the construct of self-efficacy in relation to science education (Ashton, 1984; Aston, Buhr, & Crocker, 1984; Cannon & Scharmann, 1995; Cantrell et al., 2003; Enochs & Riggs, 1990; Enochs et al., 1995; Gibson & Dembo, 1984; Jarrett, 1999; Riggs, 1988; Scharmann & Hampton, 1995; Tosun, 2000; Tschannen-Moran, Hoy, 2001; Watters & Ginns, 2000). Furthermore, we suggest that these efforts be aligned with current reform documents (e.g., NRC, 1996; NRC, 2001) that advocate the teaching of science as inquiry.
Ashton, P. (1984). Teacher efficacy; A motivational paradigm for effective teacher education.
Journal of Teacher Education, 35(5), 28-32.
Ashton, P. (1985). Motivation and the teacher’s sense of efficacy. In Ames, C. & Ames, R.
(Eds.), Research on Motivation in Education, Volume 2, The Classroom Milieu, Orlando FL, Academic Press, Inc.
Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of Behavioral change.
Psychological Review, 84(2), 191–215.
Bandura, A. (1982). Self-efficacy mechanism in human agency. American Psychologist, 37(2),
Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory.
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Bandura, A. (1995). Self-efficacy in changing societies. Melbourne, Australia: Cambridge
Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York, W.H. Freeman
Barnes, M., & Spector, B. (1999, January). Creating contexts for inquiry in science teacher
preparation: How do we do it? Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for the Education of Teachers of Science, Austin, TX.
teaching self-efficacy. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 16(3), 189-204.
Cannon, J. R., & Scharmann, L. C. (1995). Influence of cooperative early field experience on
preservice elementary teachers’ science self-efficacy. Science Education, 80, 419-436.
Cantrell, P., Young, S., & Moore, A. (2003). Factors affecting science teaching efficacy of
preservice elementary teachers. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 14, 177-192.
Enochs, L., & Riggs, I. (1990). Further development of an elementary science teaching efficacy
belief instrument: A preservice elementary scale. School Science and Mathematics, 90(8), 694–706.
Fulp, S. L. (2002). The status of elementary science teaching. Available online:
Gibson, S., & Dembo, M. (1984). Teacher efficacy: A construct validation.
Journal of Educational Psychology, 76(4), 569-582.
Jarrett, O. S. (1999). Science interest and confidence among preservice elementary teachers.
Journal of Elementary Science Education, 11(1), 49-59.
Lumpe, A. T., Czerniak, C. M., Haney, J. J., & Beltyukova, S. (2004). Teacher beliefs: Impact of
professional development and influence on student achievement. A paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association of Teachers of Science, Nashville, TN.
McDevitt, T.M., Heikkinen, H. W., Alcorn, J. K., Ambrosio, A. L., & Gardner, A. P. (1993).
Evaluation of the preparation of teachers in science and mathematics: Assessment of preservice teachers; attitudes and beliefs. Science Education, 77, 593-610.
National Research Council. (2000). Inquiry and the national science education standards: A
guide for teaching and learning. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
National Research Council. (1996). National science education standards. Washington, DC:
National Academy Press.
Pajares, M. F. (1992). Teachers’ beliefs and educational research: Cleaning up a messy construct.
Review of Educational Research, 62(3), 307-332.
Pajares, F. (2002). Self-efficacy beliefs in academic contexts: An outline. Retrieved December,
14, 2005, from http://www.des.emory.edu/EDUCATION/mfp/efftalk.html
Scharmann, L. C., & Hampton, C. M. O. (1995). Cooperative learning and preservice elementary
teacher science self-efficacy. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 6, 125-133.
Schunk, D. H. (1984). Self-efficacy perspective on achievement behavior. Educational
Psychologist, 19(1), 48-58.
Smolleck, L.D., Zembal-Saul, C. & Yoder, E.P. (In press). The development and validation of an
instrument to measure preservice teachers’ self-efficacy in regard to the teaching of science as inquiry. Journal of Science Teacher Education.
Tobin, K., Briscoe, C., & Holman, J. R., (1990). Overcoming constraints to effective elementary
teaching. Science Education, 74, 409-420.
Tosun, T. (2001). The impact of prior science course experience and achievement on the science
teaching self efficacy of preservice elementary teachers. Journal of Elementary Science Education, 12(2), 21-31.
Watters, J. J., & Ginns, I. S. (2000). Developing motivation to teach elementary science: Effect
of collaborative and authentic learning practice in preservice education. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 11, 301-321.
Young, B. J., & Kellogg, T. (1993). Science attitudes and preparation of preservice elementary
teachers. Science Education, 77, 279-291.