Ascribing Legitimacy: Pre-service Teachers Construction of Science Teaching Expertise in Multiple Communities

  • Randy K. Yerrick, Ph.D.
  • Rebecca Ambrose, Ph.D.
  • Jennifer Schiller
Keywords: Legitimacy, Teachers, Science, Teaching, Communties


This paper is a case study describing contextual influences on elementary pre-service science teachers’ views of expertise and community membership as they came into the fold of public schools. It documents through the framework of Lave and Wenger’s Situated Cognition Theory how the joint enterprises, shared repertoires, and mutual engagement in the learning of science and math teaching were affected by the novice teachers’ views of expertise and mastery. Specifically it describes how efforts to promote inquiry-based practices through participation in a Community of Practice with expert elementary teachers were diminished by pre-service teachers’ experiences in other classrooms where science instruction was not a focus. Implications are discussed for making changes in novice teachers’ beliefs and practices through improved programs, mentoring, and collaborative partnerships.

Author Biographies

Randy K. Yerrick, Ph.D.
University at Buffalo, SUNY
Rebecca Ambrose, Ph.D.
University of California, Davis
Jennifer Schiller
University at Buffalo, SUNY