Research in Science Education

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 291-311

First online:

Anthropomorphism and Animism in Early Years Science: Why Teachers Use Them, how They Conceptualise Them and What Are Their Views on Their Use

  • Maria KalleryAffiliated withSchool of Education, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
  • , Dimitris PsillosAffiliated withSchool of Education, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

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There is considerable evidence that use of anthropomorphism and animism in science teaching is a common practice in all grades of education. However, not much is known about teachers' own views on the real reasons why they have been using animistic and anthropomorphic formulations or on the issue of whether animism and anthropomorphism should or should not be used in science. The present work, which was carried out in Greece, investigates early years teachers' views on the use of animism and anthropomorphism and on the reasons behind their use of these formulations. The study was designed as a small-scale exploration study. Research data were obtained from recorded group interviews and from written tasks. Results indicate that early years teachers seem to adopt the view that animism and anthropomorphism in early years science can cause cognitive problems in young children, and also that these teachers believe that in special cases use of animism and anthropomorphism can cause emotional problems as well. Results also reveal that, despite their reservations, teachers use animism and anthropomorphism both consciously and unconsciously and that they attribute their conscious use of these formulations to their low levels of content and pedagogical content knowledge in science.

animism in science anthropomorphism in science early years science metaphors in science personification in science teachers' knowledge in science teachers' personification teachers' views on anthropomorphism