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Exploring preschool teachers’ science-specific knowledge
Barenthien, J., Lindner, M. A., Ziegler, T., Steffensky, M.

Exploring preschool teachers’ science-specific knowledge

Early Years An International Research Journal. DOI: 10.1080/09575146.2018.1443321, Open Access

Preschool teachers’ domain-specific professional knowledge is assumed to play an important role in the quality of early childhood education and thus in young children’s learning in different areas. Due to a lack of adequate instruments little is known about preschool teachers’ science-specific knowledge. In order to develop such a test instrument, we reviewed the literature on preschool teachers’ professional knowledge. On the basis of our literature review, we conceptualized preschool teachers’ science-specific content knowledge (concepts and inquiry) and pedagogical content knowledge. Drawing on this conceptualization, we developed a first version of a paper-and-pencil test focusing on physical and chemical contents, which was administered to a sample of N = 318 German preschool teachers. The test showed acceptable-to-satisfactory reliability. In addition, we present indicators for the validity of our test instrument. Results of confirmatory factor analyses indicated that preschool teachers’ science-specific content knowledge of concepts, content knowledge about inquiry, and pedagogical content knowledge were empirically separable, but with high latent correlations. Further development of standardized instruments is a prerequisite to generate more knowledge regarding preschool teachers’ science-specific knowledge, for instance concerning effects on instructional quality and effects of professional development programs for preschool teachers.