Misconceptions Within Primary Science

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Children’s Misconceptions in Primary Science

While working in a primary school I took part in an investigation into children’s understanding and concept, of what is living and what is an animal. This investigation was taken from CLISP (Children’s learning in Science Project), and aims to understand children’s concepts, so to improve teaching of primary science. I asked a numerous children, from KS1 and 2, a range of questions based around this topic, asking them to explain their views.

I firstly had to ensure I receive a natural answer from each child, to get the best insight into their thoughts. To do this, I needed to ensure the child did not feel under pressure, nor be able to take other children’s answers. I therefore asked each child individually. I also made it clear that this was not a test, and I was interested in their thoughts. I also had to ensure other members of staff did not interfere with children’s answers.

Before asking the children questions, I had already made a number of informal predictions. I envisaged children’s knowledge and understanding would improve as they progressed through the key stages. My results were therefore very interesting, when it became clear my preconceptions of what they may say, were in fact incorrect. To elucidate my findings better, I have placed my results into graphs (found in supporting graph booklet)

A number of correlations are clear throughout the graphs. Firstly when looking at children’s understanding of the term living (See fig. 1.1 & 1.2), children in both key stages have similar perceptions of fire and people, believing they are living, which of course is correct when referring to humans. However it becomes clear that older children have a better understanding of what living means and can differentiate between characteristics of things termed alive.

Secondly when looking at children’s perceptions of what they classify as an animal, the answers differ drastically (see Figure 2.1 & 2.2)....
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