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Carroll, S., McCauley, V. and Grennon, M.
The strengths and sources of Irish primary pupil’s science self-efficacy beliefs and their perceptions of scientists as science self-efficacy influencers.
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Science self‐efficacy i.e. confidence in doing science tasks successfully, is positively linked to interest and academic performance in science. Science self‐efficacy (SSE) originates from four sources: mastery experience, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion and emotional state. Teachers, family members and peers can be providers of these sources, however the influence of scientists is unknown. Furthermore, there have been no published studies investigating the SSE beliefs of Irish primary school pupils, possibly due to the lack of a suitable instrument. Here, we describe a study with two aims: 1) Assess the strengths and sources of pupils’ SSE beliefs as they relate to the Irish primary science curriculum, 2) Through hypothetical scenarios in interviews, investigate pupils’ perceptions of scientists as potential SSE influencers. To achieve these aims a novel questionnaire was developed: the Irish Science Self‐Efficacy Questionnaire for Children (IS‐SEQ‐C). The IS‐SEQ‐C contains five sections, each assessing a different aspect of SSE. Statements are answered using a 7‐point Likert scale (from negative (1) to positive (7) rating statements). The IS‐SEQ‐C was completed by 282 pupils (49% girls, Mage=11.8, SD=0.58) from 6th class in 12 local Galway Schools. Questionnaire results indicated that participants were least confident in ‘Science’ (M=5.00), compared to ‘Reading’, ‘Writing’ and ‘Maths’ (M=5.77, M=5.65, M=5.48, respectively). Of the four sources, pupils reported receiving verbal persuasion from non‐scientists the most (M=4.63), closely followed by mastery experience (M=4.36). Interview responses (N=25, 14 girls and 11 boys) suggested that participants believe verbal persuasion from scientists would be very effective as they are perceived to be “experts” in science, yet participants reported receiving very little of this in the questionnaire (M=2.57). Further results detailing participants’ confidence across the learning outcomes of the science curriculum and detected differences between genders will be presented.
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