Primary teachers conducting inquiry projects: effects on attitudes towards teaching science and conducting inquiry

Sandra I. van Aalderen-Smeets, Juliette H. Walma van der Molen, Erna G.W.C.M. van Hest, Cindy Poortman

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This study used an experimental, pretest-posttest control group design to investigate whether participation in a large-scale inquiry project would improve primary teachers’ attitudes towards teaching science and towards conducting inquiry. The inquiry project positively affected several elements of teachers’ attitudes. Teachers felt less anxious about teaching science and felt less dependent on contextual factors compared to the control group. With regard to attitude towards conducting inquiry, teachers felt less anxious and more able to conduct an inquiry project. There were no effects on other attitude components, such as self-efficacy beliefs or relevance beliefs, or on self-reported science teaching behaviour. These results indicate that practitioner research may have a partially positive effect on teachers’ attitudes, but that it may not be sufficient to fully change primary teachers’ attitudes and their actual science teaching behaviour. In comparison, a previous study showed that attitude-focused professional development in science education has a more profound impact on primary teachers’ attitudes and science teaching behaviour. In our view, future interventions aiming to stimulate science teaching should combine both approaches, an explicit focus on attitude change together with familiarisation with inquiry, in order to improve primary teachers’ attitudes and classroom practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-256
JournalInternational journal of science education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • METIS-321251
  • IR-103174
  • Inquiry
  • Attitude towards science
  • primary teachers
  • Science education
  • professional development
  • 22/4 OA procedure

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