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Author: Marilyn Fleer
Why has early childhood science education taken so long to become established as a field of research inquiry? Why do we continue to blame early childhood and primary teachers for their lack of confidence and competence in science education? This book tackles these questions and more.

Grounded in cultural-historical theory, this book explores the development of the field through the eyes of the author. Over 30 years the contexts, the questions, and the foci of a generation of science education researchers are mapped. As the field develops, new concepts, models of teaching and new methods and methodologies are theorised and empirically supported, bringing forward uniqueness of science education for children in play-based settings.

Abstract

This study explored democratic citizenship (DC) for students by developing a DC framework (DCF) with eight components. We employed the DCF to examine what and how much DC was included in Korean science textbooks and lab books focused on the topic of energy for Grades K–12. We found different DC components were included at different grade levels and some components were not present at all. To help address the uneven distribution of these components, we developed four DC inclusive science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) books related to the topic of energy. These books were designed with the DCF to foster rich DC learning experiences in school science. We engaged 13 teachers as consultants in a validation process when developing the DC inclusive STEAM books. This study describes the development and implementation of the DCF for preparing supplemental science curriculum materials that can improve students’ appreciation for DC.

Open Access
In: Asia-Pacific Science Education
Author: Hyunjung Kim

Abstract

This study analyzed the responses of Korean students to interest, confidence, value, and instructional clarity in science and mathematics. To achieve this, the raw data of the recent student survey of TIMSS were analyzed. A one-way ANOVA was performed, and a post hoc test was performed. Additionally, a cohort analysis was performed to determine the changes when the fourth-grade students reached the eighth grade. The study results are as follows. First, interest and confidence were higher in the fourth grade than in the eighth grade. Second, in most cases, the average response of Singaporean students was the most positive, but in terms of interest and confidence in science in the fourth grade, the Japanese response average was generally the highest. Third, the average scores of Korean students on wanting to have a job related to their subject and knowing what teachers expect from them were low in both science and mathematics.

Open Access
In: Asia-Pacific Science Education
Author: Marilyn Fleer

Abstract

This chapter explicitly brings into focus the concept of imagination, and the future imagining and moral imagining that Jennifer Vadeboncour has introduced into the literature. There is a dual goal. The first goal is how early childhood educators resource their professional development of a Conceptual PlayWorld for the intentional teaching of STEM through the psychological function of imagination. The second goal is oriented to bringing forward girls’ imagining that STEM is for them and imagining a career in STEM. This chapter bookends the volume and solves the problem of how to bring STEM concepts into children’s play. This chapter also paves the way for a new research agenda centred on researching STEM within the field by early childhood education researchers working in collaboration with teachers who draw on different assumptions than those from outside of the field, and who take forward new thinking as we go into the future.

In: The Role of Imagination in STEM Concept Formation
Author: Marilyn Fleer

Abstract

This chapter time stamps a period in the development of early childhood science education research. The many chapters of this volume and the republished 9 journal papers collectively lay the historical landscape that led to an Australian Research Council (ARC) funded five-year programmatic study of: Under what conditions does children’s imaginative play promote the visualisation and imagination of abstract STEM concepts? Through a personal narrative of one researcher, this chapter begins that journey into early childhood science education research, and the final 2 chapters conclude the journey by bringing together a theoretical model for teaching STEM in play-based settings and a suite of resources for continuing the legacy.

In: The Role of Imagination in STEM Concept Formation
Author: Marilyn Fleer

Abstract

The trajectory of empirical and theoretical movement towards understanding imagination in play and imagination in STEM has its inception within this chapter. It is through the suite of 3 papers (Papers 3–5) that foundational evidence is built for developing an evidence-based model for the intentional teaching of science in play-based programs. Paper 3 brings new thinking from cultural-historical theory forward through affective imagining, where cognition and imagination are studied as drama. The dramatic moments create a tension that is motivating for children. But Paper 3 does not solve the problem of a child’s motives for learning science, or the motivating conditions needed for learning in play-based settings. It is in Paper 4 that the different leading activity of two children (one to play and one to learning) in a play-based setting are identified. Studying how children with a different leading activity interact during free choice time brings out an important dynamic tension that has so far been unrecognised in play-based programs. Paper 5 takes this further by studying the role of the teacher in imaginary play, and identifying a typology that has implications for capturing, maintaining and amplifying the learning of science concepts in play-based settings.

In: The Role of Imagination in STEM Concept Formation
Author: Marilyn Fleer

Abstract

As with Chapter 1, this second chapter examines the historical context in which early childhood science education was developing. But different to the first chapter, the perspective is on researchers in early childhood education. With the spotlight on how economies can prosper when early childhood education is appropriately resourced, greater societal demands for increasing the cognitive load of children emerged. Known as the academisation of early childhood, new policies changed the research agenda and brought forward a renewed emphasis on researching play, but with a twist. With the introduction of new curricula in many countries, the intentional teaching of concepts emerged in practice. Yet the profession was still within the shadow of Piaget’s theory of development where conceptual learning was viewed as coming at a much later stage in the period of a child’s educational life. With this dual orientation to play and concept formation, new theoretical tools and different kinds of research were needed. In this chapter this problem is taken up through drawing on cultural-historical theory. Conceptual Play as a construct for naming the play and conceptual learning need, laid an important foundation for the future research of early childhood science education that is showcased in this volume.

In: The Role of Imagination in STEM Concept Formation
Author: Marilyn Fleer

Abstract

This chapter gives details on the research being taken forward through the Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship Scheme. The previous research in this volume comes together in this chapter to showcase how research in early childhood education STEM can be systematically taken to scale. The place of social media underpins how the research is brought into the community. Rather than be accompanied with a published journal paper, this chapter is anchored in a series of social media links that tell the story of research translation for making a difference to early childhood science teaching in Australia and elsewhere. Social media holds few geographical boundaries and speaks to the next generation of teachers and researchers.

In: The Role of Imagination in STEM Concept Formation
Author: Marilyn Fleer

Abstract

The deficit positioning of early childhood teachers as not being competent and confident in STEM has a long history. The argument in this chapter is that these teachers have not had the right tools. It is suggested that limited research has been directed to play-based settings, and models of STEM teaching available have tended to be designed on research from contexts that are more formal. The assumption underpinning this chapter is a credit model of early childhood teachers – teachers who are experts in play, have deep knowledge of child development, and demonstrate an extraordinary capacity in observing and planning for young learners. The theory and the research method that underpin Conceptual PlayWorlds as a model of STEM teaching is the focus of this chapter.

In: The Role of Imagination in STEM Concept Formation