Emergent in the literature is the need to increase levels of student engagement in
science, with informal science education (ISE) playing a contributing role (DES
2017). Whilst children find science to be interesting and important to society,
many children can view it as difficult and not “for them” (Aspires 2013). Science
Self-Efficacy (SSE) is the self-belief an individual has in their own abilities to
perform scientific tasks successfully in a given context. There is a positive link
between high SSE and motivation (Bandura 1997). Children’s SSE has not yet
been explored in the Irish context, nor has the influence of scientists on SSE been
investigated internationally (Usher & Pajares 2008). Due to the recent
prevalence in ISE initiatives aiming to increase children’s motivation in science,
it is necessary to inform ISE providers of best practice regarding SSE beliefs.
However, first it is necessary to be able to measure any effect they may have.
This work will describe the development, pilot validation results and future
directions of a Science Self-Efficacy and Demonstrator Competence (SSEDC)
questionnaire. The questionnaire contains six Likert-like scales, each measuring
a different aspect relating to SSE and perceived competence of scientist
demonstrators. It was piloted with 92 children aged between 10-12 years old in
a pre-post data collection design before and after participation in an informal
science education activity. Four children (two boys and two girls) also participated in interviews to explore questionnaire comprehension and interpretation. Preliminary results suggest that overall children interpreted the questionnaires correctly and that the internal consistency of the items are reliable. However, the questionnaire needs to be further modified to effectively capture the scope of SSE sources and beliefs.
Once validated, this questionnaire will be an excellent tool for both formal and
informal science educators and practitioners who are interested in targeting the SSE beliefs of their students.
DES. (2017). STEM Education Policy Statement 2017-2026. Dublin, Ireland.
Retrieved from https://www.education.ie/en/The-Education-System/STEMEducation-Policy/stem-education-policy-statement-2017-2026-.pdf
Aspires (2013) Young People’s Sciene and Career Aspirations, age 10-14”
Bandura, A. (1997) Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control. Worth Publishers.
Usher, E. & Pajares, F. (2008) “Sources of Self-Efficacy in School: Critical Review of
the Literature and Future Directions,” Review of Educational Research, Vol. 78,
No. 4, pp. 751–796.