Children’s Conceptions of the Earth: Scientific or Inconsistent/Non-Scientific

Children’s Conceptions of the Earth: Scientific or Inconsistent/Non-Scientific

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Aim of this study was to investigate children’s scientific view of the earth, aged between 5-6 years and 8-9 years, and different mode of questions, open and forced-choice questions, elicited different responses in terms of scientific or inconsistent/non-scientific concepts of the earth. One hundred and twenty-eight children were asked to draw picture of and answer questions about the earth. The finding indicated children, aged 5-6 years, made more inconsistent/non-scientific and fewer scientific responses, whereas children, aged 8-9 years, made more scientific responses and fewer inconsistent/non-scientific responses. However, different mode of questions did not elicited difference responses as children found the questions confusing.
When asked about the shape of the earth, children might say the Earth is flat and that people could fall off. This is because many aspects, scientific view of the Earth, contradict everyday observations (e.g., it is spherical) and are counter-intuitive (e.g., people can live in Singapore without falling off). Studies on children's conceptions of the Earth could reveal some key issue in conceptual development, such as the origins of scientific knowledge and the structure and content of emerging concepts (Nobes, Martin & Panagiotaki, 2005).
Vosniadou and Brewer (1992) investigated the children’s conceptual knowledge about the earth by asking various ages of children to draw picture of, and answer question about the Earth. It indicated that many children did not make consistent scientific view of the Earth (e.g., it is spherical) and that they believed the earth is flat or hollow sphere with people living inside on a flat surface. Vosniadou and Brewer claimed that young child...

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Nobes, G., Martin, A. E., & Panagiotaki, G. (2003). The development of scientific knowledge of the earth. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 23, 47-64. doi: 10.1348/ 026151004x20649.

Panagiotaki, G., Nobes, G., & Banerjee, R. (2006). Children’s representations of the earth: a methodological comparison. British Journal of Development Psychology, 24, 353-372. doi: 10.1348/026151005X39116

Reja, U., Manfreda, K. L., Hlebec, V., & Vehovar, V. (2003). Open-ended vs closed-ended questions in web questionnaires. Developments in Applied Statistics, 19, 159-177.

Vosniadou, S., & Brewer, W. F. (1992). Mental models of the earth: a study of conceptual change in childhood. Cognitive Psychology 24, 535-585.

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