Challenging the science curriculum paradigm: teaching primary children atomic-molecular theory

Haeusler, Carole and Donovan, Jennifer (2017) Challenging the science curriculum paradigm: teaching primary children atomic-molecular theory. Research in Science Education. ISSN 0157-244X

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Solutions to global issues demand the involvement of scientists, yet concern exists about retention rates in science as students pass through school into University. Young children are curious about science, yet are considered incapable of grappling with abstract and microscopic concepts such as atoms, sub-atomic particles, molecules and DNA. School curricula for primary (elementary) aged children reflect this by their limitation to examining only what phenomena are without providing any explanatory frameworks for how or why they occur. This research challenges the assumption that atomic-molecular theory is too difficult for young children, examining new ways of introducing atomic theory to 9 year olds and seeks to verify their efficacy in producing genuine learning in the participants. Early results in three cases in different schools indicate these novel methods fostered further interest in science, allowed diverse children to engage and learn aspects of atomic theory, and satisfied the children’s desire for intellectual challenge. Learning exceeded expectations as demonstrated in the post-interview findings. Learning was also remarkably robust, as demonstrated in two schools eight weeks after the intervention, and in one school, one year after their first exposure to ideas about atoms, elements and molecules.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Published online 29 November 2017. Accepted version deposited in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Teacher Education and Early Childhood
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2018 00:47
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2018 23:47
Uncontrolled Keywords: primary science learning, atomic structure, molecules, conceptual understanding
Fields of Research : 13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9303 Curriculum > 930301 Assessment and Evaluation of Curriculum
C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9301 Learner and Learning > 930101 Learner and Learning Achievement
C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9302 Teaching and Instruction > 930201 Pedagogy
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1007/s11165-017-9679-2

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