The effects of scientific representations on primary students’ development of scientific discourse and conceptual understandings during cooperative contemporary inquiry-science

Gillies, Robyn M., Nichols, Kim and Khan, Asaduzzaman (2015) The effects of scientific representations on primary students’ development of scientific discourse and conceptual understandings during cooperative contemporary inquiry-science. Cambridge Journal of Education, 45 4: 427-449. doi:10.1080/0305764x.2014.988681


Author Gillies, Robyn M.
Nichols, Kim
Khan, Asaduzzaman
Title The effects of scientific representations on primary students’ development of scientific discourse and conceptual understandings during cooperative contemporary inquiry-science
Journal name Cambridge Journal of Education   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0305-764X
1469-3577
Publication date 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/0305764x.2014.988681
Open Access Status
Volume 45
Issue 4
Start page 427
End page 449
Total pages 23
Place of publication Abingdon, Oxon, United Kingdom
Publisher Routledge
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Abstract Teaching students to use and interpret representations in science is critically important if they are to become scientifically literate and learn how to communicate their understandings and learning in science. This study involved 248 students (119 boys and 129 girls) from 26 grade 6 teachers’ classes in nine primary schools in Brisbane, Australia. Teachers were randomly allocated by school to one of three conditions: the contemporary science + representations condition (Experimentala), the contemporary condition (Experimentalb), or the comparison condition as they participated in an eight-week inquiry-science unit on Natural Disasters. Data on students’ discourse were collected at two time points during the implementation of the unit and data on the concept maps were collected pre- and post-intervention while data on the reasoning and problem-solving (RP-S) task were collected following the intervention. The results show that when students participate in an inquiry-based science unit that is augmented with a variety of multimedia resources presenting a range of current contemporary events (Experimentala and Experimentalb conditions), they demonstrate significantly more social language and basic scientific language and marked increases in moderate scientific language than their peers in the comparison condition. Interestingly, although there were no significant differences on the Personal Concept Map scores between the conditions at Times 1 and 2, the students’ scores in all conditions improved decidedly across time. It appears that as the children had more time to engage with the material, participate in cooperative peer discussions, and receive encouragement from their teachers to provide elaborated feedback to each other, their conceptual understandings of earthquakes were enhanced. However, although the children in the experimental conditions demonstrated significantly more social and scientific language than their peers in the comparison condition, these oral language skills did not transfer to the RP-S task, possibly because they may not have had enough time to consolidate their application in a novel context where they had to work independently.
Keyword Scientific representations
Scientific discourse
Cooperative learning
Inquiry science
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Education Publications
 
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Created: Thu, 25 Dec 2014, 09:57:35 EST by Professor Robyn Gillies on behalf of School of Education