Bilingual Science Practicum

Nancy Tyan, Yung-Teng Lin, & Ya-Chen Chien

On Improving Student Teachers' Bilingual Science Teaching Performance and Self-efficacy: An Action Research

In the 2020 academic year, ten senior students from a pre-service bilingual education program participated in a one-year elementary school teaching practicum at W elementary school with a focus on teaching science bilingually in both Mandarin Chinese and English. The class met four hours a week, and the student teachers taught full-time at W elementary for three weeks in March 2021. Of the ten student teachers, two had a science education background, and the rest majored in liberal arts. In terms of their English ability, nine reached B2 CEFR level and one was at B1 level. These students have taken the required courses on bilingual science education, instructional principles, and classroom English.


This study aims to explore the practicum students’ changes in their performance and self-efficacy of teaching science bilingually. The students received full support and supervision from the case university, researchers and W elementary, which includes the following: 1) a 12-hr workshop on effective teaching which includes detailed study and teaching demonstration of the standards for evaluation of teacher professional development, students’ micro-teaching and evaluation; 2) Student pairs were assigned into five classes at W elementary. They frequently had professional dialogues with their partners, other classmates, researchers, as well as W elementary school teachers; 3) Students were encouraged to participate in the annual bilingual lesson plan competition hosted by the case university, during which two student groups collaborated and won the competition. One of the students shared her award-winning teaching plan to the first author’s “Principles of Instruction” class; 4) W elementary provided bilingual science teaching demonstrations twice for students to observe and discuss.


A Science Education expert and a CLIL expert were invited to evaluate students’ bilingual science teaching twice, first in November 2020, and then in March 2021 (during the 3-wk full time teaching period), as the pre- and post-tests of their bilingual sciences teaching performance. Students’ teaching strength and weakness was analyzed after the pre-test. Most students applied confirmation inquiry model (not the open-ended inquiry model as recommended in science education), used instructional language that was too difficult for children, showed poor class time management. A three-week remedial coaching program was conducted accordingly with intensive professional consulting among researchers and students during the winter break of 2021.

Instruments. The instrument used to evaluate bilingual sciences teaching performance was the Bilingual Curriculum Design and Teaching checklist (Tyan, Chien & Tsou, under review). It has 31 criteria nested under five constructs. The constructs’ internal consistency Cronbach Alpha coefficients were between .85 to .95 and their discriminate validity values (AVE) were between .541 to .835. Using Huang and Chang's (2018) teaching performance assessment for pre-service teachers as the validity criterion, the criterion-reference validity was .805 (p=.003). Students’ self-efficacy of bilingual science teaching was evaluated using a Self-Efficacy of Teaching scale (Sun, 2003). It has 24 criteria nested under six constructs and their internal consistency Cronbach Alpha coefficients were between .85 to .95. Using the Life Orientation Test (Scheier & Carver, 1985) as the validity criterion, the criterion-reference validity was .32 (p<.01).


The results of independent t-tests showed statistically significant improvement from pre- to post-test scores in terms of bilingual science teaching performance (t=2.26, p<.05) and bilingual science teaching self-efficacy (t=2.26, p<.001). Students’ changes were elicited from their final reflection. The researcher used “children” below to refer to W elementary school students.

In terms of teaching performance, students focused more on their teaching during the pre-test. They developed various strategies to support children’s learning during the three-week full-time teaching practicum.

  • Originally, I only focused on how to teach in English, but now I also think about how to help elementary school children express their learning in English. In addition, I also learned to simplify the classroom language to match the English level of children. For example, I used “Talk” instead of “Discuss”, “The same” instead of “Compare”, “Hey not now!” instead of “Please wait until I say ‘open’” , “Louder” instead of “Can you say louder to the class?”, “Shh…Listen!” instead of “Listen attentively”. (Student Z)
  • I used different teaching methods (e.g., changing the difficulty of the game, peer evaluation) to improve children's concentration. (Student M)
  • When a child was unable to answer the question, I directed him to seek help from classmates. (Student E)
  • I praised children who tried to answer the question and suggested how they can express their ideas better. (Student C)
  • I had never been confident in my English speaking ability. I took a Professional English course in my junior year, even though I had practiced my teaching many times, I still didn’t teach well. It was just ten-minute teaching, but I felt it’s a century-long. Now I have the courage to teach in English. If a child answered in Chinese in a low volume, I was able to convey his answer to the whole class in English. (Student A)

In terms of learning assessment, students focused only on teaching during the pre-test, and lacked the sense of assessment. During the three-week practicum, students had developed a variety of assessment methods. I used worksheets and oral assessment to confirm children’ understanding.

  • The worksheet includes filling in the blank, multiple choice, drawing of a certain animal’s habitat, movement, food and teeth. (Student H) I asked children to come to the stage and point out a certain internal structure of the seed according to my order (student S).
  • I randomly invited a child to come to the stage to answer the question and ask other children if they agree. I also asked children to explain their thinking process (Student A).

In terms of classroom management, during the three-week period, students had developed humane, rigorous, and diverse methods.

  • Children just came back from PE class, they felt hot and exhausted, and were unable to concentrate. I acknowledged their physical and mental status, so I gave them a few minutes to drink water and cool down. (Student H)
  • When children show inappropriate behaviors, I asked the whole class to judge the behavior. This helped reduce that child’s negative feelings toward the teacher. (Student C)
  • I designed an experiment that attracts children very much. After completing the specified portion of the worksheet and having me checked, children can start the next phase of the experiment. (Student S) I used rhythmic sentences to attract students' attention, such as: stand up, stand up, I stand up. (Student J).


黃永和、張新仁 (2018)。師資生教學表現評量的設計與實施經驗探究。教育研 究與發展,14(3),101-128。[Huang, Y. & Chang, S. (2018). Explore the experience of design and implementation of student teachers’ teaching performance evaluation. Educational Research and Development,14(3),101- 128。

田耐青、簡雅臻、鄒文莉(審稿中)。「雙語課程設計及教學檢核表」建構之研 究。[Tyan, N., Chien, J. & Tsou, W. (under review). Research on the Construction of Bilingual Curriculum Design and Teaching Checklist.

孫志麟 (2003)。教師自我效能的概念與測量。教育心理學報,34(2),139-156。[Sun, C. (2003). Teacher Efficacy: Its Concept and Measurement. Bulletin of Educational Psychology, 34(2), 139-156.]

Scheier, M. F., & Carver, C. S. (1985). Optimism, coping, and health: assessment and implications of generalized outcome expectancies. Health Psychology, 4(3), 219-247.

Big picture