Teaching Magnetic Attraction to Preschool Children: A Comparison of Different Approaches

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The paper presents a comparison of different approaches for teaching magnetic attraction to preschool children. Three nursery school classes were studied, one of which served as a control group (N1=24), and two as experimental groups (N2=24 and N3=25). A traditional approach was adopted in the first class. In the second class, a socio-cognitive perspective was promoted, putting an emphasis on children’s existing ideas about magnets and magnetic forces as well as on their collaborative experimentation and their interactions within the groups and with their teacher. The intervention implemented in the third class also took into consideration children’s ideas and combined specifically designed activities using story telling, hands-on experiments, and drama. The three approaches were evaluated on the basis of pre- and post-tests in order to estimate the evolution of children’s conceptions about magnetic forces. The results indicate that the traditional approach had no significant impact on children’s understanding of magnetic attraction. On the other hand, the two experimental interventions lead to substantial improvements in preschoolers’ thinking. Moreover, interesting conclusions can be drawn from the comparison of the two experimental settings. The design of the intervention in the second class helped the teacher to determine cognitive obstacles in children’s thinking and encouraged incidents of socio-cognitive conflict, thus facilitating the obstacles’ destabilization. The storytelling and drama activities implemented in the third class increased the children’s interest and involvement and supported the children in forming accurate predictions for their experimentations.

Keywords: Preschool Children, Magnetic Attraction, Socio-Cognitive Perspective, Classroom Experiments, Storytelling, Drama
Stream: Technology in Learning; Maths, Science and Technology Learning
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Teaching Magnetic Attraction to Preschool Children

Dr. Vasilia Christidou

Associate Professor, Department of Preschool Education, University of Thessaly
Volos, Thessalia, Greece

Dr Vasilia Christidou is an Associate Professor in Science Education at the Department of Preschool Education, University of Thessaly, Greece. Her current research interests concern teaching and learning in science, children’s ideas in science, the promotion of Public Understanding of Science, and the process of recontextualization of scientific texts addressed to non-experts. She has coordinated and participated in a number of research projects related to teaching and learning science at both primary and secondary education, and has published numerous research articles and studies in journals, books, and conference proceedings.

Dr. Katerina Kazela

Visiting Teacher, Teacher Supervisor, Department of Preschool Education, University of Thessaly
Volos, Thessaly, Greece

Prof. Domna Kakana

Professor, Department of Preschool Education, University of Thessaly
Volos, Thessaly, Greece

Domna Kakana is Professor in Theory of Preschool Education, at the Department of Preschool Education, University of Thessaly, Greece. She is director of the Laboratory of Theoretical and Applied Pedagogy and of the postgraduate program "Pedagogic toy and pedagogic material for early childhood" at the same Department. Her recent research interests include the development of contemporary teaching and learning environments in preschool education, such as collaborative environments, the new teaching approaches, and pre-service teachers’ training. She has participated as a leader or as a researcher in many European research programs in the field of Education and especially in designing new educational environments. She has over 60 publications in Greek and English, 6 books (2 editing) and over 70 oral presentations in international, European and Greek conferences.

Maria Valakosta

Affiliation not supplied

Ref: L09P0539