Exploring the Complexities of Children’s Inquiries in Science: Knowledge Production Through Participatory Practices
- 961 Downloads
Beginning with the assumption that young children are capable of producing unprecedented knowledges about science phenomena, this paper explores the complexities of children’s inquiries within open-ended investigations. I ask two central questions: (1) how can we (teachers, researchers, and children themselves) use and build upon children’s explorations in science in practice? and (2) what pedagogical approaches can position children as experts on their experiences to facilitate children’s sense of ownership in the process of learning science? Six vignettes from a Kindergarten classroom are analyzed to elaborate the central claim of this work, which is that when children are engaged in collaborative open-ended activities, science emerges from their interactions. Open-ended structures allowed for teachers and children to facilitate further investigations collaboratively, and participatory structures mediated children’s representations and explanations of their investigations. Evidence of children’s interactions is used to illustrate the complexities of children’s explorations, and pedagogical approaches that create the spaces for children to create knowledge are highlighted.
KeywordsEarly childhood science Participatory practices Emergent science Children’s perspectives Kindergarten science
This manuscript was begun through a Writing Week at the University of Luxembourg’s Language, Culture, Media, and Identities research unit. During this week, all participants were able to focus on preparing a manuscript, and engage in feedback with other Writing Week participants. I am grateful to the organizers for the impetus and motivation, and also the administrators who supported the project by removing all meetings and other duties from the week. I would also like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their useful feedback.
- American Association for the Advancement of Science, Project 2061 (1993). Benchmarks for science literacy. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Brooker, L. (2002). Starting school—young children learning cultures. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
- Cannella, G. S., & Viruru, R. (2004). Childhood and (post)colonization: Power, education, and contemporary practice. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Carspecken, F. P. (1996). Critical ethnography in educational research: A theoretical and practical guide. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Chicago Board of Education (2008). Virtual K Chicago. Accessed August 7, 2012 from https://www.virtualk.org/en/lesson2classroom.
- Dale, J., & Hyslop-Margison, E. (2010). Paulo Freire: Teaching for freedom and transformation. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
- Gallas, K. (1995). Talking their way into science: Hearing children’s questions and theories, responding with curricula. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
- Goodrum, D., Hackling, M., & Rennie, L. (2001). The status and quality of teaching and learning of science in Australian schools. A research report prepared for the Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.Google Scholar
- Greene, M. (1988). The dialectic of freedom. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
- Harris, C. J., & Salinas, I. (2009). Authentic science learning in primary and secondary classrooms. In M. I. Saleh & M. S. Khine (Eds.), Fostering scientific habits of mind: Pedagogical knowledge and best practices in science education (pp. 125–144). Netherlands: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
- Kloos, H. Baker, H., Luken, E., Brown, R., Pfeiffer, D., & Carr, V. (2012). Preschoolers learning science: Myth or reality? In H. Kloos (Ed.), Current topics in children's learning and cognition, doi: 10.5772/54119. Available from: http://www.intechopen.com/books/current-topics-in-children-s-learning-and-cognition/preschoolers-learning-science-myth-or-reality-.
- Maryland State Board of Education (2005). Children Entering School Ready to Learn: School Readiness Information for School Year 2004–05. Downloaded from: http://www.marylandpublicschools.org/msde/newsroom/publications/school_readiness.
- Osborne, J., & Dillon, J. (2008). Science education in Europe: Critical reflections. London: The Nuffield Foundation.Google Scholar
- Pasley, J., Weiss, I., Shimkus, E., & Sean Smith, P. (2004). Looking inside the classroom: Science teaching in the United States. Science Educator, 13(1), 1–12.Google Scholar
- Piaget, J. (1960). The child’s conception of physical causality. Iowa: Littlefield: Adams (originally published 1930).Google Scholar
- Piaget, J. (1973). Main trends in psychology. London: George Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
- Pink, S. (2007). Doing visual ethnography. London: SAGE.Google Scholar
- Riecken, T., Strong-Wilson, T., Conibear, F., Michel, C., & Riecken, J. (2004). Connecting, speaking, listening: Toward an ethics of voice with/in Participatory Action Research [57 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research [On-line Journal], 6(1), Art. 25. Available at: http://www.qualitativeresearch.net/fqs-texte/1-05/05-1-25-e.htm.
- Saçkes, M., Trundle, K., Bell, R., & O’Connell, A. (2011). The influence of early science experience in Kindergarten on children’s immediate and later science achievement: Evidence from the early childhood longitudinal study. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48(2), 217–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Sewell, W. H. (1999). The concept(s) of culture. In V. E. Bonnell & L. Hunt (Eds.), Beyond the cultural turn: New directions in the study of society and culture (pp. 35–61). Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Siry, C. (2012). Towards multidimensional approaches to early childhood science education. Cultural Studies of Science Education. Advance publication doi: 10.1007/s11422-012-9445-8.
- Siry, C., & Zawatski, E. (2011). “Working with” as a methodological stance: Collaborating with students in teaching, writing, and research. The International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 24(3), 343–361.Google Scholar
- Smith, C., Maclin, D., Grosslight, L., & Davis, H. (1997). Teaching for understanding: a study of students’ pre-instruction theories of matter and a comparison of the effectiveness of two approaches to teaching about matter and density. Cognition and Instruction, 15(3), 317–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Stepans, J., & Kuehn, C. (1985). What research says: Children's conceptions of weather. Science and Children, 23(1), 44–47.Google Scholar
- Thomas, J. (1993). Doing critical ethnography. California: Sage.Google Scholar
- Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). In M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner, & E. Souberman (Eds.), Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Weiss, I. R., Pasley, J. D., Smith, P. S., Banilower, E. R., & Heck, D. J. (2003). Looking inside the classroom: A study of K-12 mathematics and science education in the United States. Chapel Hill, NC: Horizon Research, Inc.Google Scholar
- Worth, K., & Grollman, S. (2003). Worms, shadows, and whirlpools: Science in the early childhood classroom. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.Google Scholar