Young elementary students' conceptual understandings of lunar phases before and after an inquiry-based and technology-enhanced instructional intervention
This mixed methods study explored young children's understandings of targeted lunar concepts, including when the moon can be observed, observable lunar phase shapes, predictable lunar patterns, and the cause of moon phases. Twenty-one children (ages seven to nine years) from a multi-aged classroom participated in this study. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews, student drawings, and card sorting before and after an inquiry-based, technology-enhanced instructional intervention. Students' lunar calendars, written responses, field notes, and videotaped class sessions also provided data throughout the study. Data were analyzed using codes from prior lunar studies, constant comparative analysis, and nonparametric analysis. The instructional intervention included lunar data gathering, recording, and sharing, through the use of Starry Night planetarium software and an inquiry-based instruction on moon phases (McDermott, 1996). In a guided inquiry context children worked in groups to gather and analyze nine weeks of lunar data. Findings indicated a positive change in students' understanding of all targeted concepts. After the intervention more children understood that the moon could be observed sometimes during the day, more children drew scientific moon phase shapes, and more children drew scientific representations of the moon phase sequences. Also, more children understood the cause of moon phases.
Hobson, S. M. (2008). Young elementary students’ conceptual understandings of lunar phases before and after an inquiry-based and technology-enhanced instructional intervention. Ph.D. Dissertation. The Ohio State University, USA