Cultural differences and students’ spontaneous models of the water cycle: a case study of Jewish and Bedouin children in Israel
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The present research aims at pinpointing differences in spontaneous and non-spontaneous mental models of water cycle conceptions of two 4th grade student groups: the Jewish residents of a small provincial town and a group of students from an indigenous Bedouin community. Students’ conceptions were elicited using the Repertory Grid technique as well by being asked to draw “what happens to water in nature?” In later interviews, in addition to answering specially designed open-ended interview questions, the students were also requested to elaborate on their drawings and responses to the Repertory Grid technique. The Bedouin students were found to have richer mental models of water cycle phenomena; their models included more components of the water cycle and were more authentic and connected to other natural phenomena. On the other hand, Bedouin students also employed theological explanations to make sense of water cycle phenomena. These findings, as well as methodological issues relating to spontaneous and non-spontaneous models elicitation are discussed and implications for instruction are offered.