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Investigating pre-service science teachers’ epistemological beliefs in the domain of environment through comparing with other domains

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2010
Adıbelli, Elif
The main purpose of this study was to determine preservice science teachers’ (PSTs) epistemological beliefs regarding the nature of knowledge and learning in the domain of environment through comparing with the domains of biology, physics, chemistry, and mathematics. A total of 12 PSTs voluntarily participated in the study. The sample of this study was consisted of senior elementary PSTs who registered for an elective course titled “Laboratory Applications in Science and Environmental Education” in the fall semester of 2008-2009 at a public university, in Ankara. The major data of this study was collected by using a semi-structured interview protocol, developed by Schommer-Aikins (2008). The data of this study were analyzed through descriptive statistics and Miles and Huberman approach (1994). The data analyses of this study were presented along with five dimensions of epistemological beliefs. The analysis of omniscient authority indicated that the PSTs less trust in environmental experts’ opinions, give more importance to informal education in the acquisition of environmental knowledge, and believe that environmental knowledge is justified more on the basis of direct observation. The analysis of stability of knowledge revealed that the PSTs conceived of environmental knowledge as more uncertain. The analysis of structure of knowledge pointed out that the PSTs consider environmental knowledge as more complex. The analysis of control of learning revealed that the PSTs believe that the large percentage of ability to learn can be acquired after the birth more in environment. The analysis of speed of learning indicated that the PSTs believe that much of learning takes less time in the domain of environment. This study provided evidence that epistemological beliefs are multidimensional and domain-specific. Moreover, this study highlighted that the nature of environmental knowledge and learning are also an important issue to be addressed in environmental education.