Date: 10 Feb 2010

ALTERNATIVE CONCEPTIONS ABOUT BURNING HELD BY ATAYAL INDIGENE STUDENTS IN TAIWAN

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ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study was to investigate the alternative conceptions about burning phenomena among Atayal indigene elementary school students in Taiwan. The main difference from other relevant research is that this study assesses Atayal people’s worldview by means of a questionnaire developed specifically for this purpose. There were three stages in this study: First, three Atayal elders were interviewed to access their traditional knowledge about nature, naturally occurring events, and burning. Second, this knowledge was used to develop an open-ended questionnaire that was administered to 37 students at the third to sixth grade levels (ages 9 to 12); eight respondents were interviewed to document their worldviews. Third, a two-tier diagnostic questionnaire developed from these results was administered to 228 students with 44 respondents interviewed about the burning events assessed by the instrument. Results suggested that students held alternative conceptions about the five burning events: candles burning, factors of burning, fire extinguishment, material changes in burning, and traditional meanings of burning. In contrast with previous studies on burning, this study demonstrated the existence of other alternative conceptions. The origin of these alternative conceptions may be grounded in traditional culture, knowledge, environment, economy, medicine, and personal thinking.