Do young children's ideas about the Earth's structure and processes reveal underlying patterns of descriptive and causal understanding in earth science?

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  2. Dr Anthony Blake
Author(s)Blake A
Publication type Article
JournalResearch in Science & Technological Education
ISSN (print)0263-5143
ISSN (electronic)1470-1138
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This paper begins with a discussion regarding the nature and complexity of understanding in the conceptually-confined domain of earth science, here limited to its ‘geological’ aspects. There then follows a report on a study of how the ideas about a range concepts relating to the Earth’s structure and processes held by individual children from Key Stage 2 (7-11 years) in one North East of England primary school reveal hierarchical levels of descriptive and causal understanding. Such patterns, described here as alternative frameworks, can be used to inform our understanding of young children’s learning in earth science and unless taken into consideration, represent an additional ‘critical barrier’ to learning in this domain to those previously identified by research. Implications of these findings for further research and for classroom practice are addressed.
NotesUnusually in this under-researched field, a developmental approach to young children’s understanding of specific earth science concepts has been explored. An explanatory framework is provided to describe both the content of children’s knowledge at different stages and changes to such understanding resulting from classroom interventions.
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