ished views of scientific practice (Trumbull and Kerr, 1993; Seymour and Hewitt, 1994). Not surprisingly, undergraduates’ and prospective science teachers’ views of science reflect this emphasis on science as a body of facts and scientific practice as mechanistic applications of a sequential scientific method. Hammer and Elby (2003) in their analysis of undergraduates’ perspectives on learning physics found that, in contrast to the “modeling game” of practicing physicists, many undergraduate students “view physics knowledge as a collection of facts, formulas, and problem solving methods, mostly disconnected from everyday thinking, and they view learning as primarily a matter of memorization” (p. 54; see also Elby, 1999).
Prospective teachers typically view scientific practice in a similarly narrow light (e.g., Abd-El-Khalick and BouJaoude, 1997; Aguirere, Haggerty, and Linder, 1990; Bloom, 1989; Pomeroy, 1993; Windschidtl, 2004). For instance, Windshitl (2004) studied the views of pre-service science teachers as they designed and conducted studies in the context of a secondary science methods course. Study participants included 14 pre-service teachers with earned bachelors’ degrees in a science. Windschitl tracked their thinking about science through regular journal entries for one semester and conducted interviews with them on their experiences in science from middle school forward. He analyzed their efforts to develop inquiry projects (beginning with formulating questions through presentations to peers) and found that they had a common folk view of science. Among other features, folk science entails construing hypotheses as guesses that have little bearing on how problems are framed and examined. Furthermore, scientific theory assumes a peripheral role in this view of science, relegated to the end of a study as an optional tool one might use to help explain results.
Observed limitations in K-8 teachers’ knowledge of science are not surprising given the mixed and generally low expectations laid out in teacher certification policy at the state level. Although 80 percent of states require demonstration of subject matter competence for obtaining an elementary school certificate, most states do not stipulate what that means in terms of the content that teacher candidates should study, nor the clusters of courses they should take. Delaware, Maryland, and Maine register on the high end of requirements. Delaware and Maine both require 12 semester hours in science. In Maine, which offers a K-8 certificate, teachers must have at least 6 semester hours in science. In contrast, Hawaii and Kansas are states that do not require credit hours in science or other subject areas. Other states use tests to assess subject matter knowledge. In Arizona, for example, elementary school certified teachers must take and pass a subject knowledge assessment—although it is not possible to ascertain what proportion of any state assessment test covers science.
There is scant evidence on how elementary and middle grade teachers are typically prepared in science, as well as few controlled analyses of how