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

Randy K. Yerrick, Ph.D., Rebecca Ambrose, Ph.D., Jennifer Schiller


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.



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