Mentoring preservice teachers of primary science

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Perceptions of mentors' practices related to primary science teaching were obtained from final year preservice teachers after a 4-week practicum. Responses to a survey (n=59), constructed through literature-based practices and attributes of effective mentors, identified perceived strengths and weaknesses in the area of mentoring preservice teachers of primary science. Through exploratory factor analysis, this pilot study also tested the unidimensionality of mentoring practices and attributes assigned to categories (factors) that may characterise mentoring in primary science teaching. These suggested factors, namely, personal attributes, system requirements, pedagogical knowledge, modelling, and feedback had Cronbach alpha coefficients of internal consistency reliability of 0.93, 0.78, 0.94, 0.90, and 0.81 respectively. Survey responses indicated that mentors generally do not provide specific mentoring in primary science teaching. It is argued that science education reform requires the identification of factors and associated attributes and practices of mentoring primary science in order to effectively develop preservice teachers in primary science teaching.