Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
In the United States, a current initiative, Advancing Active STEM Education for Our Youngest Learners, aims to advance science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in early childhood. The purpose of this study was to understand preschool teachers' proficiency with science and address the problem of whether or not science learning opportunities are provided to young children based on teachers' attitudes and beliefs. A theoretical framework for establishing teachers' attitudes toward science developed by van Aalderen-Smeets, van der Molen, and Asma, along with Bandura's theory of self-efficacy were the foundations for this research. Research questions explored preschool teachers' attitudes and beliefs toward science in general and how they differed based on education level and years of preschool teaching experience. Descriptive comparative data were collected from 48 preschool teacher participants using an online format with a self-reported measure and were analyzed using nonparametric tests to describe differences between groups based on identified factors of teacher comfort, child benefit, and challenges. Results indicated that the participants believed that early childhood science is developmentally appropriate and that young children benefit from science instruction through improved school-readiness skills. Preschool teachers with a state credential or an associate's degree and more teaching experience had more teacher comfort toward science based on attitudes and beliefs surveyed. The data indicated participating preschool teachers experienced few challenges in teaching science. The study may support positive social change through increased awareness of strengths and weaknesses of preschool teachers for the development of effective science professional development. Science is a crucial component of school-readiness skills, laying a foundation for success in later grades.