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Children's understanding of globes as a model of the earth: A problem of contextualizing
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
2008 (English)In: International Journal of Science Education, ISSN 0950-0693, E-ISSN 1464-5289, Vol. 30, no 2, 221-238 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Visual representations play an important role in science teaching. The way in which visual representations may help children to acquire scientific concepts is a crucial test in the debate between constructivist and socio-cultural oriented researchers. In this paper, the question is addressed as a problem of how to contextualize conceptions and explanations in cognitive frameworks and visual descriptions in cultural contexts. Eleven children aged 6-8 years were interviewed in the presence of a globe. Those children who expressed views of the Earth that deviated from the culturally accepted view did not show any difficulties in combining these different ideas with the globe model. The way that this is possible is explained using a model of conceptual development as a process of differentiation between contexts and frameworks. The child must differentiate not only between the Earth as an area of flat ground in a common-sense framework and the planet Earth in a theoretical framework, but also between these frameworks and the framework of the representation. It is suggested that a differentiation on a meta-level is needed to distinguish which problems and explanations belong to which cognitive framework. In addition, the children must contextualize the visual description of the Earth in the globe in a cultural context to discern which mode of representation is used.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 30, no 2, 221-238 p.
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-24269DOI: 10.1080/09500690601185956ISI: 000251577400005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-24269DiVA: diva2:197135
Available from: 2007-05-16 Created: 2007-05-02 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Conceptions and artefacts: Children's understanding of the earth in the presence of visual representations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Conceptions and artefacts: Children's understanding of the earth in the presence of visual representations
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The studies in this thesis explore children’s understanding of the earth when presented with visual representations. The conceptual understanding is related to cognitive contexts as well as the physical and cultural state. Pictures and models, as communicative tools, are associated with both cognition and culture. The investigation was divided into three different studies, where the main differentiation was the category of visual representation of the earth that was used. In the first study eleven children, aged six to eight, were interviewed with a globe as a model of the earth. In the second study fourteen children, aged six to eight, were interviewed, this time with a poster of a satellite photo of the earth. In the third study, eighteen children, aged six to nine, were interviewed while they were drawing pictures the earth. The results showed that the influence of these representations could be detected in what the children talked about and in their choices of explanations. In the children’s conceptions of the earth, however, no clear influence from the representations was apparent. A possible explanation for this is that pictures and models can be produced according to different conventions for depicting. The alternative modes of depiction in the children’s culture appeared to make it possible for the children to choose a certain mode of depiction, in their interpretation of the representation that made this interpretation in accord with their own conception of the earth. Not only did the children express various conceptions of the earth, e.g. that people and countries were situated inside a globe, in the presence of the representations, but also some children drew pictures of the earth in line with conventional methods for depicting the earth, even though they may have expressed alternative conceptions. The results support the view that children hold conceptions, but they oppose to claims that naïve thinking is without conceptual structure, and that we have no foundation to locate conceptions in people’s minds, as distinguished from concepts that are located in cultural tools.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Pedagogiska institutionen, 2007
Series
Doktorsavhandlingar från Pedagogiska institutionen, Stockholms universitet, ISSN 1104-1625 ; 140
Keyword
conceptual understanding, cultural conventions, visual representations
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-6829 (URN)978-91-7155-424-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2007-06-08, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 8 A, Stockholm, 10:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2007-05-16 Created: 2007-05-02Bibliographically approved

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