Electronic Theses and Dissertations


Open Access Dissertation


Chemistry--Study and teaching (Elementary); Elementary school teachers--Attitudes; Elementary school teachers--Psychology;


This causal-comparative descriptive study investigated the achievement of pre-service elementary teachers taking an introductory physical science course that integrates inquiry-based instruction with computer simulations. The study was intended to explore if pre-service elementary teachers with different attitudes towards science as well as students with different learning styles would benefit differentially. Four research questions including four hypotheses were developed. The first major question consist of four specific hypothesis that addressed preservice elementary teachers' learning styles (Active/Reflective, Sensing/Intuitive, Visual/Verbal, and Sequential/Global) and their conceptual understanding of chemistry and the particulate nature of matter in a science class which use hands-on learning integrated with computer based simulated activities. The second major question pertained to the relationship between preservice teachers learning science and chemistry and their attitude towards science. The third major question related to preservice elementary teachers science and chemistry achievement gain scores and attitude average affected by their learning styles. Finally, the fourth question pertained to the dissipation or the minimization of preservice elementary teachers' science and chemistry misconceptions over the course of study.

Three instruments were given to preservice elementary teachers in three different classes: pretest/posttest for the science conceptual understanding examination, and pretest-only for the science attitude and learning styles instruments. Total usable science attitude surveys returned was 67 out of 70. The overall average mean was 3.13 (SD = .51) on a five point scale. Total return of science achievement instrument was 65, with a total mean test score (quantitative and qualitative together) of 6.38 (SD = 3.05) on the pretest, with a post test mean of 9.06 (SD = 4.19).

Results revealed no statistically significant achievement gain scores based on students' learning styles, entering in all 4-combined dimensions at the same time Visual/Verbal, Sensing/Intuitive, Sequential/Global, and Active/Reflective (p > .05), indicating the four learning styles dimensions cannot be used to predict students' achievement gain. Results also indicated that there was no significant relationship between achievement gain and students' attitude (p > .05). Attitude and learning style together were also not significantly related to achievement gain.

Preservice elementary teachers' comprehension of chemical concepts in this study varied from no comprehension to fair comprehension, and included many misconceptions; no answer showed complete understanding of the concepts. Many of the preservice teachers held misconception related to evaporation. If not addressed in science content and methods courses, this could be a problem as this new generation of teachers goes out to teach.

It is proposed that to fix preservice elementary teachers' conceptual problems, curriculum needs to specifically focus on misconceptions. The preservice elementary subjects of the study showed a variety of misconceptions on both pretest and posttest concerning the particulate and the kinetic nature of matter. Suggestions are made is that a science content course could more contribute to preservice students' conceptual change if curriculum designers incorporate a segment that specifically addresses misconceptions, especially those misconceptions that have been documented in the literature for decades. A robust cognitive model for science education is proposed to increase teachers' science knowledge and to decrease science misconceptions.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Robert M. Boody, Committee Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (xiii, 211 pages)



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