Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    Can children in the early years of primary schooling say from whom or what or where they acquired their scientific understandings ?
    Roscholler, Carolyn June ( 2006)
    Young children bring with them to school a certain amount of science knowledge gained from their everyday lives. What they "know", whether right or wrong, may be the result of interactions with family, television, computer programs, books, peers or visits to environmental locations, museums or science centres. In this study, children who have been at primary school for between two and three years are asked to describe their knowledge and their sources of information. The extent to which school factors are influencing their science knowledge is investigated. A survey was developed and protocols trialled before fifty-seven children aged eight and nine years at a provincial Victorian government primary school were surveyed to establish their home background and family interest in science, their own attitudes and feelings toward science and the efficacy of their science experiences at school. Interviews were carried out with nine students, selected to represent a broad range of attitudes to science, in order to gain more detailed information about their specific understandings of a number of topics within the primary school science curriculum and the sources of their information. The students' responses revealed that where they were knowledgeable about a subject they could indeed say from where they obtained their knowledge. Books were the most commonly cited source of information, followed by school, personal home experiences and family. Computers and the internet had little influence. Students who appeared to have "better" understandings quoted multiple sources of information. Positive correlations were found between enjoyment of school lessons and remembering science information, liking to watch science television or videos and remembering science information, and liking to read science books and remembering science information. Mothers were also linked to the use of science books at home, and the watching of nature TV shows at home. There are several implications for the teaching of science at early years level. Teachers need to be aware of powerful influences, from both within and outside of the classroom, which may impact on children, and which may be enlisted to help make learning more meaningful. The research indicates the importance of home background, parental interest and access to books, and notes the under utilisation of computers and lack of visits to museums and interactive science centres.
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    Phenomenal robotics! : so what are students' perceptions about the robotics experience?
    Martin, Julie ( 2006)
    Robotics as a learning experience is becoming very popular in Australian schools and is being offered to students at primary and secondary level. It is considered to be a valuable integrated unit particularly in the areas of science and mathematics but also provides an ideal environment for students to engage and learn via constructionist principles. But what do young students perceive to gain from participating in a robotics experience? This investigation looks at the lived experience of doing robotics through the eyes of a group of students who were of mixed ages but had participated in the robotics' experience when they were in grade six as 12 year olds. The students were interviewed regarding the effect of the robotics experience on their learning during and after the experience ended. Students reflected on the phenomenon and made strong connections with the social value of the program. Their emphasis was not so much on academic skills gained but on the sense of self and its relationship to the group. The robotics experience provided an environment that allowed the students to feel valued and motivated to strive for goals, without realising they were gaining valuable information and skills as well as enjoying themselves.
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    From I can't and I don't to I can and I want to : a study in teaching and learning
    Surman, Lynne ( 1998)
    In recent years, the teaching and learning of science in primary schools has been a major concern within professional sectors and at all levels of education. This study reveals teachers' responses and personal growth within a long term professional development program. Through an analysis of workshop session transcripts the researcher identifies a range of meanings made by the participant primary teachers about the teaching and learning of science in their classrooms. The findings indicate that positive changes in the teachers' views of themselves as learners of science takes place when teachers and tertiary teacher educators work together in long term collaborative inquiry. A further outcome is that the teachers develop new confidence and abilities which inform their classroom practice.
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    Teachers' evocation of and response to children's questions in primary science
    Harrison, Terry Francis ( 1996)
    Recently some writers have advocated a reorganisation of primary science teaching based on children's questions as an extension of an inquiry based and constructivist approach to teaching and learning. This study was designed to add to recent findings on the role and place of evoking and responding to children's questions in primary science. A case study approach was used to investigate aspects of classroom interactions. Specifically, this study gathered and analysed data on the role and value of a teaching sequence known as the Interactive Teaching Approach as it was used to elicit children's questions as the basis for implementation of science curriculum units by teachers and the associated development of children's questioning skills together with the issues and difficulties which arose for the teachers as they used the approach. Results suggested that, when encouraged, children readily asked questions and asked a range of question types. However, the data gathered also explicated a number of key issues and difficulties which arose for the teachers involved. Their comments suggested that extended professional development will be necessary to implement science curriculum units with an Interactive Teaching Approach. The findings were interpreted and discussed in relation to a suggested model for the development of children as effective questioners, a framework for making sense of children's questions and, as there was some evidence for a change in the nature of children's questions as a topic is taught, a proposed model of stages of development of a curriculum unit and children's questioning skills. They were also linked to future professional development for primary teachers. The teachers in this study found the information gathered to be valuable for them as they planned their teaching and learning strategies and their involvement in the research advanced their professional development as science teachers in primary schools.
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    Investigations of informal learning in science using postage stamps with some Victorian ten-year-old children
    Gray, C. M. R. ( 1986)
    Primary school children learn matters of a scientific nature through many sources of informal learning. These include radio, television, newspapers, comics, books, mother, father, films, travel, museums, zoos, animal parks, gardens, youth groups and other sources. This thesis concerns three investigations of informal learning in science using observations of postage stamps having 'science' themes with 21 10 year-old children attending Victorian Independent schools. In the first, each child was asked what the word 'science' meant to him or her. Then, a number of Australian and Malaysian postage stamps depicting animals were handed to each. The participant was asked to sort them into any arrangement that appealed, but such that all the stamps could be viewed at once by an observer. Each child was asked the basis for his or her arrangement. Each arrangement was photographed and examined for signs consistent with any informal knowledge of the hierarchical classification of the animals depicted. In the second, Malaysian stamps were used to enhance the children's observation of postage stamps and, through this guided observation, they learned previously unknown features of Malaysia. In the third, seven cards, all but one displaying a postage stamp or a set of postage stamps having a 'science' theme, were observed and discussed one at a time with each child. The form of discussion was such that ideas of a scientific nature, probably learned through previous informal learning, were identified. Some of their sources were identified by the children. From these interviews some evidence was obtained which supported the hypotheses: 1. That 'Science' has a variety of connotations in the minds of the 10 year-olds, most suggesting experimental activity. 2. That the children showed little evidence of informal learning associated with a hierarchical classification of the animals depicted, other than in terms of 'air, land and water' in some cases. 3. That the 10 year-olds learned previously unknown facts about Malaysia through guided observation of Malaysian postage stamps. 4. That the stamps in the third investigation acted as stimuli to memory-recall of matters related to the subjects depicted on the stamps. Many of the children's responses provided comments which reflected the children's ideas on some scientific matters. The thesis supports the idea that the use of selected postage stamps as described is one means of investigating the nature, extent and sources of informal learning in science in some Victorian 10 year-old children. It also illustrates the use of postage stamps in the design of science instruction for possible use in primary schooling.
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    Negotiating and enabling change in a primary school: identifying strategies that assist classroom teachers with the teaching and learning of science
    Carr, Helen ( 2006)
    The purpose of this research was to investigate strategies that assist classroom teachers with the teaching and learning of science. The researcher, a classroom teacher and science coordinator at Karingal Heights Primary School (KHPS), decided to conduct the study because of the researcher's desire to improve current practices at KHPS. The researcher's belief that, examining current practices, investigating alternatives and documenting what works for individual teachers are essential elements for successful teaching and learning. The methodology of action research was the most appropriate tool because it allowed for collaboration and reflection. The research period was ten months and involved classroom teachers at KHPS in a process of inquiry and. reflection. Classroom teachers became active participants in identifying strategies that assisted.them with the teaching and learning of science. Finding links to science across the curriculum led to a wider vision of what constituted science and resulted in more science happening at KHPS. Action Research became a strategy that promoted science teaching and learning because it provided classroom teachers with a focused process of investigation and reflection. What emerged was a broader view of science, linked more to the lives and interests of the school community and the conclusion that, although a variety of strategies assist classroom teachers with the teaching and learning of science, collaborative work practices emerged as the most valuable strategy for the classroom teachers at KHPS.
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    Researching teacher agency in primary school science: a discursive psychological approach
    Arnold, Jennifer Lynne ( 2004)
    This ontological study is concerned with analyses of the problem of the scientific reform of the primary school curriculum. It was conducted at a time when a solution was sought through State mandated curriculum and standards specification and primary teacher accountability. The case study developed as an interactive ethnography (Woods 1996) written from the point of view of the facilitator of a whole school science curriculum project. The focus of the enquiry emerged as an exploration of social episodes in the life of two experienced Early Years teachers engaged in the yearlong project. Discursive psychology became the theoretical framework for the analysis of the primary teachers' professional identity formation in their professional work=place conversations with the author. Pronominal coding has been used to mark the teachers' psychological location in their storylines of the implementation of enquiry-based science education in their classes. In the teachers' accounts they simultaneously position themselves in their acts and actions and in the local moral order of duties and responsibilities. A significant disparity is shown to exist between the ontologies of the primary teachers' and research accounts, which present mental state analyses of teachers' lack of confidence or reluctance to teach science related to limited scientific understanding. The. study offers a schematic model of social action that theorizes human agency as, developing and functioning within the interactional nexus of local community settings. The community operates in the lives of these teachers not as a latent, abstract concept; instead it gives ideological differences and teachers' understandings of themselves significance in everyday educational practices.