An Assessment of Children's Concepts of the Earth Utilizing Structured Interviews

Nussbaum, Joseph and Novak, Joseph D. (1976) An Assessment of Children's Concepts of the Earth Utilizing Structured Interviews. Science Education, 60 (4). pp. 535-550. ISSN 1098-237X

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The importance of organizing the elementary school curriculum around major concepts of science has been emphasized by many science educators[l-3]. On the other hand, there are opponents to this approach whose position has been that the elementary science curriculum should be organized around teaching scientific skills and methods of inquiry[4-6]. In this debate, two lines of argument are used by both of the opposing sides: (1) whether it is possible at all to teach young children science concepts, or alternatively science methods, in a sophisticated and honest way; and (2) which of the two approaches would yield a better learner in junior high school or beyond? The second question, in other words, is: What will facilitate higher levels of science learning in subsequent years-training in science skills and methods of inquiry or providing the child with a well-organized conceptual scheme? Definite answers for both lines of argument can only be found through long-term empirical studies. Although such a study based on concept learning is now in progress at Cornell University, the work reported here was based on Ausubel's[7] learning theory and the assumption that at least some level of concept learning is possible with secondgrade children when appropriate instruction is offered. This study was part of a continuing series of efforts to design and evaluate audiotutorial science lessons as described elsewhere [8,9] . Audio-tutorial lessons guide students through experience with objects and materials by using audio-cassette tapes in a carrel unit, with each child instructed individually. The lessons vary from 15 to 25 minutes in duration, depending in part upon how long children engage in manipulative or observational activity at intervals when the tape is stopped. Audio-tutorial instruction provides a useful research tool, since all children receive essentially identical instruction. In the research reported here, teachers were asked not to supplement the instruction offered, although this would ordinarily be desirable. Our purpose was to reduce or eliminate the teacher as a source of uncontrolled variance in children's concept learning for purposes of this research.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Astronomy Education Research
Depositing User: Dr Michael Fitzgerald
Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2018 01:41
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2018 05:16

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