Inquiry-based science teasching competence of pre-service primary teachers

E. Alake-Tuenter

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


In recent years, improving primary science education has received considerable attention. In particular, researchers and policymakers advocate the use of inquiry-based science teaching and learning, believing that pupils learn best through direct personal experience and by incorporating new information into their existing knowledge base. Therefore, corresponding educational paradigms have shifted from merely reproducing knowledge to asking scientifically oriented questions and searching for evidence when responding to those questions. This approach is considered to be the starting point for motivating pupils to apply research skills, construct meaning, and acquire scientific knowledge. Teachers’ competencies are essential for increasing pupils’ learning and for stimulating their interest in science. Research has indicated that primary school teachers find it difficult to become effective inquiry-based science teachers because they often lack key knowledge regarding how science inquiry works and—in particular—how to implement inquiry-based teaching in their classrooms (Lee, Hart, Cuevas & Enders, 2004; Van Zee et al., 2005; McDonald, 2009). In the absence of these key competencies, qualitatively poor or insufficient guidance and insufficient feedback could be received during the discovery process. High-quality teacher education that yields competent teachers is the foundation of any system of formal education. However, the Netherlands lacks a recent formal agreement between professionals regarding the competencies that teachers need in order to teach inquiry-based primary science. In light of this issue, this thesis has two key aims. The first aim is to clarify which competencies are needed in order to teach inquiry-based primary science. The second aim is to determine how various components of science-teaching competence are related. The first aim was achieved by performing a literature study and a Delphi study, and the second aim was achieved by performing empirical studies using a knowledge test, a list of attitude questions, and a case-based questionnaire designed to assess Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK).
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Mulder, Martin, Promotor
  • Biemans, Harm, Co-promotor
  • Tobi, Hilde, Co-promotor
Award date1 Oct 2014
Place of PublicationWageningen
Print ISBNs9789462570016
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • teacher training
  • teaching
  • science
  • primary education
  • elementary education
  • competences
  • professional competence
  • didactics
  • teaching methods
  • netherlands


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