Young children's understanding of science in four domains and its development through a constructivist approach to teaching
This thesis reports work which attempted to explore the nature and extent of young children's (age 5-11) understanding of four domains of science - light, electricity, processes of life and astronomy. In each of these domains, an intervention based on constructivist principles was also conducted in conjunction with the existing class teachers to explore what potential this approach had as an effective pedagogy for primary science education.This research was undertaken under the aegis of the Science Process and Concept Exploration (SPACE) project and was a collaborative effort undertaken from 1988-1992. The chosen domains were selected to represent a range of the sciences and to match the knowledge and expertise of the research team.The methodology adopted for the work was a mix of qualitative and quantitative, qualitative in that the study was essentially an empirical study attempting to describe what are the features of children's knowledge and understanding and how it develops with an intervention; and quantitative in that it has attempted to measure and quantify the main aspects of their thinking to provide a) a picture of the predominance (or not) of a particular concept; b) to enable some measure of the significance of any changes to be determined, and c) to explore inter-relationships in the ideas and concepts held by individual children. The research reported here has successfully managed to document a large sample of children's ideas in these domains and extend our knowledge of their thinking at these ages. In addition, it has been able to show that the use of a constructivist pedagogy can have positive outcomes for children's learning.
Osborne, J. F. (1994). Young children's understanding of science in four domains and its development through a constructivist approach to teaching. PhD. Dissertation. King's College London, UK