On the Cutting Edge - Professional Development for Geoscience Faculty
Student Motivations and Attitudes: The Role of the Affective Domain in Geoscience Learning
Carleton College, Northfield, MN
Cutting Edge > Affective Domain > Workshop 07 > Participants and their Essays > Kathie Owens
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Kathie Owens

Department of Curricular and Instructional Studies, University of Akron

Kathie Owens

What are the key issues related to the role of the affective domain in teaching geoscience that you would like to engage at the workshop?

I am interested in preservice teachers' self-efficacy beliefs; I am also interested in students' attitudes toward science, in particular to the geosciences.

What expertise or experience (in study of the affective domain or teaching of geoscience) will you bring to the workshop? How would you like to contribute to the workshop?

In addition to my own research (see essay) I have guided both geoscience and science education doctoral students to investigate elements of the affective domain (attitude, self-efficacy, satisfaction with course-taking experiences). Hopefully, a science educator's perspective will bring diversity of thought to the discussion.

Essay: Teachers' Self-Efficacy

I am a teacher-educator who collaborates with geoscience faculty members at the University of Akron on teaching, learning, and assessing initiatives. Much of our joint work rests in the cognitive domain, although in the affective domain, we have looked at students' attitudes towards science and the geosciences and their satisfaction with the active class pedagogy (attendance, retention, participation).

Each summer I conduct a workshop on science and technology for elementary school and middle school teachers. Our goals are to increase teachers' science content knowledge, to impact their self-efficacy (confidence) as science teachers, and to lower their concerns regarding making changes to their teaching practice. To measure the second and third goals we use a pre-, post-, and delayed post- test design. Over the past three summers we have seen encouraging gains in teachers' self-efficacy and their concerns about teaching standards-related content by inquiry methods have diminished. We have inferred that these gains derive from both the teachers' increased content knowledge and the pedagogy we employ in the conduct of the workshop. "Traditional" science courses whose methods rely on lecture may have a negative impact on teachers' self-efficacy. When teachers know well the content they are required to teach and they have learned this content by methods they can employ in their classrooms, their efficacy improves, they teach more science and their students learn more.

Most of my work focuses on preservice science teacher preparation and I am interested in their self-efficacy as a factor of their effectiveness in their future classrooms. According to Ashton & Webb (1986) experiences in future teachers' undergraduate courses (all their courses, not just their education courses or student teaching) affect their sense of efficacy. A teacher's poor sense of efficacy often results ineffective learning experiences for their students. Since preservice teachers take geoscience courses, I am interested in the impact on their self-efficacy of their learning experiences in their geoscience classes. Since self-efficacy is domain specific (Bandura, 1977), I cannot assume that when my students leave my methods class with a strong belief that they can teach science that this belief encompasses teaching earth science.


Ashton, P. T., and Webb, R. B. (1986). Making a difference: Teachers' sense of efficacy and student achievement. New York: Longman.

Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84, 191-251.


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