Exploring the Current State of Grades 4 to 8 Science Education in Ontario
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This study sought to explore the current state of Grades 4 to 8 science education in Ontario from the perspective of Junior/Intermediate (J/I) teachers. The study’s methodology was a sequential 2-phased mixed methods explanatory design denoted as QUAN (qual) qual. Data were collected from an online survey and follow-up interviews. J/I teachers (N = 219) from 48 school boards in Ontario completed a survey that collected both quantitative and qualitative data. Interviewees were selected from the survey participant population (n = 6) to represent a range of teaching strategies, attitudes toward teaching science, and years of experience. Survey and interview questions inquired about teacher attitudes toward teaching science, academic and professional experiences, teaching strategies, support resources, and instructional time allotments. Quantitative data analyses involved the descriptive statistics and chi-square tests. Qualitative data was coded inductively and deductively. Academic background in science was found to significantly influence teachers’ reported level of capability to teach science. The undergraduate degrees held by J/I science teachers were found to significantly influence their reported levels of capability to teach science. Participants identified a lack of time allocated for science instruction and inadequate equipment and facilities as major limitations on science instruction. Science in schools was reported to be of a “second-tiered” value to language and mathematics. Implications of this study include improving undergraduate and preservice experiences of elementary teachers by supporting their science content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge.