A Small Scale Investigation Into the Factors Influencing the Conceptual Change in Children’s Scientific Thinking

3388 words 14 pages
A small scale investigation into the factors influencing the conceptual change in children’s scientific thinking

Abstract
The present study aims to compare how Piaget and Vygotsky theories promote conceptual change in children’s scientific thinking. The investigation is an adaptation of a procedure used in 1930 by Piaget and compares two children’s predictions and explanations of why some objects float or sink. Children’s thinking is then challenged using discovery learning and scaffolding with the aim to investigate how each approach promotes a shift in their scientific thinking. Their explanations are coded, quantified and compared. The findings support Piaget stage theory and although scaffolding approach proved more effective, both
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In part A the participants had to predict and give reasons why eight objects, light floaters and heavy sinkers, floated or sank, and then test them. In part B the participants had to do the same for other eleven objects, light sinkers and heavy floaters. In part C, by inducing cognitive conflict, Professor Nunes discussed with the participants about their inconsistent explanations and in addition, by using a scale, she scaffolded children’s thinking. In the end, the development of children’s understanding is assessed by asking one reason for which the objects floated or sank.
Written consent was obtained from children’s parents for their participation. Children were told that they could stop, pause or leave the recording if they wanted, but none of them asked it. Except for the first names and ages, the participants’ identity is anonymous.
Word count: 415

Results
1. Initial predictions and explanations
The accuracy of two participants predictions was calculated in order to asses their hypotheses effectiveness. Table 1 shows that overall the predictions accuracy is quite high and similar: 72.22% for Daniel and 78.95% for Jessica. Moreover, stage 2 predictions are identical, 87.5%, although the items got wrong by the participants are not the same. However, there is more discrepancy in accuracy after stage 5; Jessica performed much better (72.73%) than Daniel (60%). Table 1 data summarised the predictions from Appendix 3.

Table 1 Accuracy of participants’ predictions

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