Date of Award
Doctor of Education (EdD)
Julie Hadden, EdD
Doug DeVore, EdD
Jo Moccia, EdD
Purpose. The purpose of this study was to identify the self-efficacy of early childhood teachers toward STEM subjects as measured on the Teacher Efficacy and Attitudes toward STEM Survey (T-STEM) and to explore factors that influence this confidence.
Methodology. A quantitative approach with two open-ended items was selected for this study, seeking to elicit both quantitative and qualitative data from participants. This approach allowed for multiple viewpoints to be expressed, with the qualitative data collected simultaneously with the quantitative data, and the former designed to illuminate reasons influencing the latter in a complimentary approach. The population for the study included teachers working at schools affiliated with the Northwest Association of Independent Schools who taught children aged three to eight years.
Findings. Examination of data revealed ten major findings. Three of these, a tendency toward neutrality, indications of low levels of self-efficacy of early childhood teachers in teaching STEM subjects, and a resistance to evaluation by a colleague, were identified by the survey. Three of these, a lack of experience/education/training, a lack of time/resources/materials, and the diminished value of the role of STEM were identified as barriers to feelings of self-efficacy. The final four findings, collaboration, professional development opportunities, opportunities for integration and hands-on practice across the school day, and access to curriculum and materials were identified as positive influences on self-efficacy.
Conclusions. Based on the data, it was concluded that teachers had low levels of self-efficacy in teaching STEM subjects and explicit instruction in STEM subjects and instructional techniques helped build confidence. The presence of supportive and collaborative colleagues, as well as high perceptions of the importance of STEM in early childhood education also supported feelings of self-efficacy.
Recommendations. Further research is recommended to explore the effectiveness of professional development for early childhood educators in STEM, the role of the collegial relationship, and specifically the mentor/novice relationship. Additionally, further research into the intersection of collaboration and professional development as well as the role of integrated learning in early childhood is recommended.
Donnelley Smith, Ariella Rachel, "Self-Efficacy of Early Childhood Teachers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics" (2018). Dissertations. 223.
Curriculum and Instruction Commons, Early Childhood Education Commons, Educational Leadership Commons, Elementary Education Commons, Elementary Education and Teaching Commons, Other Teacher Education and Professional Development Commons, Pre-Elementary, Early Childhood, Kindergarten Teacher Education Commons, Science and Mathematics Education Commons