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Effect of Robotics on Elementary Preservice Teachers’ Self-Efficacy, Science Learning, and Computational Thinking


"The current impetus for increasing STEM in K-12 education calls for an examination of how preservice teachers are being prepared to teach STEM. This paper reports on a study that examined elementary preservice teachers' (n = 21) self-efficacy, understanding of science concepts, and computational thinking as they engaged with robotics in a science methods course. Data collection methods included pretests and posttests on science content, prequestionnaires and postquestionnaires for interest and self-efficacy, and four programming assignments. Statistical results showed that preservice teachers' interest and self-efficacy with robotics increased. There was a statistically significant difference between pre-knowledge and post-knowledge scores, and preservice teachers did show gains in learning how to write algorithms and debug programs over repeated programming tasks. The findings suggest that the robotics activity was an effective instructional strategy to enhance interest in robotics, increase self-efficacy to teach with robotics, develop understandings of science concepts, and promote the development of computational thinking skills. Study findings contribute quantitative evidence to the STEM literature on how robotics develops preservice teachers' self-efficacy, science knowledge, and computational thinking skills in higher education science classroom contexts."