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Understanding the earth in the presence of a satellite photo: A threefold enterprise
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
2009 (English)In: European Journal of Psychology of Education, ISSN 0256-2928, Vol. 24, no 3, 281-292 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

To acknowledge both conceptual and situational factors, children’s understanding of the Earth was considered from three angles: 1, the perspective as the physical point or direction from which something is seen or depicted; 2. conceptual frameworks; 3. the relevance of explanations in a situation. Fourteen children were interviewed individually in front of a poster of a satellite photo of the Earth. The interviews were semi-structured and focused on what the children understood was depicted in the poster and if they had seen the Earth. The effect of choice of perspective was demonstrated by children who only talked about how the Earth could be seen from space. The need to relate different conceptual frameworks became apparent with children, who meant that the Earth was situated in the direction of the sky. Different understandings of the relevance of an explanation were detected when the interviewer talked from the perspective in the room, but children talked about the perspective in the present poster. The results indicate that not only both conceptual frameworks and understanding of perspectives play a part when students encounter questions related to the concept of Earth, but also the students’ judgments of the relevance of different explanations in a situation.

Abstract [fr]

Pour reconnaitre aussi bien les facteurs conceptuelles que les facteurs provenant de la situation, la compréhension de la terre par les enfants a été vu à partir de trois angles: (1) la perspective en tant que point physique, ou direction, à partir duquel de quelque chose est vu ou représentée; (2) structures conceptuelles; (3) la pertinence des explications d’une situation. Quatorze enfants ont été interviewés individuellement face à un poster représentant d’une photo satellite de la terre. Les entretiens étaient semi-directifs et concentré sur la compréhension des enfants de ce que représentait le poster et s’ils avaient vu la terre. L’effet du choix de la perspective se vérifiait à travers les discussions des enfants qui se demandaient comment la terre pouvait être vue de l’espace. Le besoin d’établir des structures conceptuelles différentes se vérifiait à travers la discussion des enfants qui étaient de l’opinion que la terre était située en direction de l’espace. La nécessité d’explications supplémentaires s’est révélée quand il s’est avéré que la perspective à partir de laquelle parlait l’interviewer était de celle de la pièce, alors que la perspective des enfants était celle représentée sur le poster. Les résultats montrent que non seulement les structures conceptuelles et la compréhension des perspectives jouent un rôle quand des élèves sont confrontés à questions relatives au concept de la terre, mais aussi leur appréciation quant à la nécessité d’explication différentes d’une situation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 24, no 3, 281-292 p.
Keyword [en]
Conceptual frameworks - Contextualization - Perspectives - Relevance of explanations - The Earth
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-24270DOI: 10.1007/BF03174761ISI: 000269721000001OAI: diva2:197136
Part of urn:nbn:se:su:diva-6829Available from: 2007-05-16 Created: 2007-05-02 Last updated: 2010-09-13Bibliographically 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
Doktorsavhandlingar från Pedagogiska institutionen, Stockholms universitet, ISSN 1104-1625 ; 140
conceptual understanding, cultural conventions, visual representations
National Category
Research subject
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
Available from: 2007-05-16 Created: 2007-05-02Bibliographically approved

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