Examining elementary teacher candidates’ transfer of higher cognitive questioning skills from science methods course to associated field practice: A mixed methods approach



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The goal of science education is to develop scientifically literate students who are capable of synthesizing information, critiquing current developments and generating innovative ideas to improve our global community. However, for students to perform at this higher cognitive level, science teachers must be knowledgeable and proficient at encouraging students to think at this level. Research continues to advocate for higher cognitive teacher questions in the science classroom because higher cognitive teacher questions are able to support students’ development of critical thinking skills. Yet, it is rare to hear higher cognitive teacher questions in the science classrooms today. The purpose of this mixed methods study was to examine the influence of science methods courses on teacher candidates’ knowledge of cognitive teacher questions and how content and context may influence the elementary teacher candidates’ ability to demonstrate a learned skill, pose higher cognitive questions, during a science lesson. I utilized 91 elementary teacher candidates’ pre-tests, post-tests, video-recorded science lessons, and science lesson plans to analyze how teacher candidates transferred their knowledge and use of science content and cognitive questions from the science methods course to an elementary science classroom. The findings suggest the science methods course had a significantly positive influence on the teacher candidates’ science content knowledge and there was a significant relationship between the number of higher cognitive questions based on with whom the teacher candidates performed their science lesson. However, the findings were unable to explain the relationship between the teacher candidates’ knowledge and the number of higher cognitive questions asked during a science lesson.

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Higher cognitive questions, Elementary teacher candidates, Far transfer