Naive knowledge in astronomy : coherent or fragmented
The debate about the nature of children's intuitive knowledge in various domains of science continues in the research found today. On one hand, researchers lik e Vosniadou (1987), who support the Framework Theory argue that children's naive knowledge is coherent, thus children form and use mental models to explain vari ous phenomena across specific domains of science. On the other hand, researcher s in support of the Knowledge in Pieces Theory, such as diSessa (1983) view chil dren's intuitive knowledge as fragmented, where in different situations individuals use different pieces of knowledge. This cross-sectional, developmental research addressed three main questions: (1) To what degree is children's naive knowledge in the domain of astronomy coherent? (2) What is the nature of incoherence found in children's responses to questions about the features of the three celestial bodies (Sun, Moon and Earth)? (3) What mental models of the celestial bodies and explanations of the day/night c ycle and seasons do students hold when they show coherent responses for features of celestial bodies? A structured interview using a 184-item questionnaire was conducted on thirty first, third and fifth graders in a private school in Leban on to determine the nature of their naive knowledge in the domain of astronomy. Results of this study indicated that a large number of students maintained coher ent responses for features of celestial bodies across three levels of complexity . The nature of coherence was described in terms of features of celestial bodie s, with the lowest number of coherent responses found for the feature motion of celestial bodies. With liberal guidelines used for describing children's mental models, only one first grade student, two third grade students and seven fifth grade students' responses were determined as coherent across significant feature s of the domain, and thus their mental models and explanations to the day/night cycle and seasons were described. Six out of the ten students' mental models described show incoherence between verbal and 3D responses to questions about what causes the seasons. Children's naive knowledge in the domain of astronomy is characterized as fragmented, even though students showed higher degrees of coherence in their responses as they got older.
Type of Publication
Itani, Lamaan Samir
American University of Beirut