SCIENCE INVESTIGATION STATIONS IN THE ELEMENTARY LIBRARY:
MULTIPLE COLLABORATIONS FOR STUDENT SUCCESS
A Doctoral Dissertat...
ii
SCIENCE INVESTIGATION STATIONS IN THE ELEMENTARY LIBRARY:
MULTIPLE COLLABORATIONS FOR STUDENT SUCCESS
Copyright © 2013
...
iii
SCIENCE INVESTIGATION STATIONS IN THE ELEMENTARY LIBRARY:
MULTIPLE COLLABORATIONS FOR STUDENT SUCCESS
A Doctoral Disse...
iv
SCIENCE INVESTIGATION STATIONS IN THE ELEMENTARY LIBRARY:
MULTIPLE COLLABORATIONS FOR STUDENT SUCCESS
Abstract of Docto...
v
ABSTRACT
The purpose of this qualitative case study was to describe and explain the perceptions of
a new science program...
vi
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my chair, Dr. Susan Adragna and
committee member, Dr. ...
vii
DEDICATION
To JAB, thank you for loving me and believing that I could do this!
To my parents, thank you for always lov...
viii
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
TABLE OF APPENDICES .............................................................................
ix
CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY ......................................................................... 62	
  
Research De...
x
Teacher’s Role in Collaboration ............................................................. 108	
  
Lessons Before and...
xi
TABLE OF APPENDICES
Appendix Page
A. District Approval Letter.............................................................
1
CHAPTER ONE: THE PROBLEM
Science scores of American students and the science literacy of the American
population have be...
2
essential in this technological, information-saturated world that these students be
problem-solvers, critical thinkers, ...
3
Started in 1985, Project 2061’s main goal, according to AAAS, is “to help all Americans
become literate in science, math...
4
Problem Background
The scores from the 2009 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP)
indicated that only 34% of ...
5
different school librarians, including the current researcher, and their respective schools
were chosen to pilot the pro...
6
Problem Statement
The problem was there had not been an evaluation of the effectiveness of the
program Science Investiga...
7
3. How do the fifth grade teachers, as team members of the Science Investigation
Stations in the Library project, descri...
8
may not allow for easy correlation between the various members (Creswell, 2007; Yin,
2009). The schools chosen to partic...
9
subject area; in the case of this current study, science. Due to recent budget cuts, only
those schools designated Title...
10
Perceptions
Perceptions are based not only on what is construed by the senses, but also on
what is given attention at a...
11
Importance of the Study
While there has been much research on the positive effects that libraries and
librarians can ha...
12
includes information about the participants, the methodology used, and the data analysis.
Chapter four contains a compi...
13
CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
Science education reform became a hot topic in the late 1950s and continues to
th...
14
teachers of science (AST) together to implement science project stations in the library for
fifth grade students. The p...
15
However, the term itself is thought to have arisen from the reference Piaget (1935/1995)
made about his views as a “con...
16
most vital piece of learning science. The five main principles of constructivism, as
identified by Brooks and Brooks (1...
17
and to fan the flame that already glows” (p. 29). In a later publication, Democracy and
Education, Dewey (1916/2005b) e...
18
Dewey (1916/2005b) argued that students needed experiences that were personal
to them and that learning occurred as the...
19
Dewey’s (1910/2005a) idea was that the students in school should be allowed to work
through problems and ideas. He argu...
20
example, in regards to science education, Piaget (1935/1995) claimed that as a student
passed from the concrete operati...
21
As viewed from a constructivist perspective, these six principles indicate that learning is
a social process in which t...
22
adjustment occurs through the processes of accommodation and assimilation.
Accommodation is when a child can modify his...
23
Scribner, 1978). Vygotsky theorized that learning is formed socially and transmitted by
the culture (John-Steiner & Sou...
24
discussion and feedback with teachers and peers would be able to take their learning to
more advanced levels (Berube, 2...
25
Bruner and Social Constructivism
While Dewey, Piaget, and Vygotsky all placed some level of importance on the
social as...
26
would be to expand on these ideas in later grades. One of the main ideas that Bruner
(1977) emphasized is that subject ...
27
make it fit new activities. Finally, evaluation is when a person determines if the new
information that comes from the ...
28
The second tenet is the constraints tenet. Basically this principle points out two
important constraints to making mean...
29
was that schools that used student participation, collaboration, and were student-directed
had more successful students...
30
The eighth tenet is the tenet of identity and self-esteem. This tenet deals with
education’s role in the development of...
31
movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Bruner (1996) took inspiration from Karplus because
Bruner believed that Karplus under...
32
psychologists were using Piaget’s ideas on constructivism, but were not delving into the
epistemological connections.
A...
33
knowledge and, as such, language is not the means of transmitting information, but rather
a tool to help direct the stu...
34
In summary, Dewey introduced the idea that learning is personal and should be
student-centered. Piaget added to this un...
35
knowledge by replacing it, adding to it or modifying it (Cobern 1993). As Tobin and
Tippins (1993) pointed out, science...
36
• Hands-on/active learning: In science education, this involves students
performing experiments and working with the to...
37
related through embedded connections (Good et al., 1993). From these constructions, a
learner can begin to understand t...
38
learning through interaction with other students (Applefield, Huber, & Moallem, 2000).
According to Yore (2004),
The pe...
39
The current research on science education of elementary students is wide and, at
times, somewhat limited. For example, ...
40
2. HPSST education, which means to develop a working understanding of the
history, philosophy, and sociology of science...
41
• Strand 2: Generating scientific evidence. Proficiency in science entails
generating and evaluating evidence as part o...
42
learning science has been established and currently, the concern is more about how to
teach science.
The NRC (as cited ...
43
and communication, and finally, assessing students through formative assessment,
feedback, and self-assessment. One way...
44
learning includes learning the content and the appropriate processes at the same time
(Michaels et al., 2008). The fact...
45
Cooperative Learning and Collaboration
One way to best facilitate learning is through cooperative groups. Cooperative
l...
46
students’ thinking and misconceptions. These discussions also help to add to students’
overall science learning (Winoku...
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Science Investigation Stations in the Library-Dissertation

  1. 1. SCIENCE INVESTIGATION STATIONS IN THE ELEMENTARY LIBRARY: MULTIPLE COLLABORATIONS FOR STUDENT SUCCESS A Doctoral Dissertation Research Submitted to the Faculty of Argosy University, Phoenix Campus College of Education In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education by Lisa D’Ann Hettler October, 2013
  2. 2. ii SCIENCE INVESTIGATION STATIONS IN THE ELEMENTARY LIBRARY: MULTIPLE COLLABORATIONS FOR STUDENT SUCCESS Copyright © 2013 Lisa D’Ann Hettler All rights reserved
  3. 3. iii SCIENCE INVESTIGATION STATIONS IN THE ELEMENTARY LIBRARY: MULTIPLE COLLABORATIONS FOR STUDENT SUCCESS A Doctoral Dissertation Research Submitted to the Faculty of Argosy University, Phoenix Campus in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education by Lisa D’Ann Hettler Argosy University October, 2013 Dissertation Committee Approval: Sue Adragna, Ph.D. Date Gerry Bedore, Ph.D. Heather K. Pederson, Ph.D.
  4. 4. iv SCIENCE INVESTIGATION STATIONS IN THE ELEMENTARY LIBRARY: MULTIPLE COLLABORATIONS FOR STUDENT SUCCESS Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation Research Submitted to the Faculty of Argosy University, Phoenix Campus College of Education In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education by Lisa D’Ann Hettler Argosy University October 2013 Susan Adragna, Ph.D. Gerry Bedore, Ph.D. Department: College of Education
  5. 5. v ABSTRACT The purpose of this qualitative case study was to describe and explain the perceptions of a new science program, Science Investigation Stations in the Library, being implemented in a large school district in Texas. Four schools that participated in the program during the 2012–2013 school year were asked to participate. Fifth grade teachers, librarians, and academic support teachers of science from each of the campuses were invited to participate. Twelve participants completed an open-ended questionnaire about the collaboration process of the stations, as well as the perceived benefits to the fifth grade students’ academic achievements in science. Additional data was collected from a focus group interview with four librarians and comments from questions posted on a blog. Findings indicate that the collaboration piece, though desired by the librarians and academic support teachers, was perceived to have minimal teacher involvement. As for the perceived benefits to science understandings of fifth graders, all three groups noticed high motivation, effective participation, and support for various learning styles and sub- groups of students. Further qualitative data and quantitative data would help to elaborate on the potential benefits of the program.
  6. 6. vi ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my chair, Dr. Susan Adragna and committee member, Dr. Gerry Bedore, for their invaluable support and guidance in the planning and implementation of this research project. The deepest appreciation is further offered to the librarians, teachers, and academic support teachers of the school district for their participation in the research study. Without their contributions of time and resources, this study would not have been possible. Additional thanks go to those fellow classmates along the journey, whose words of encouragement and feedback made the tough parts bearable. Also, those friends that were in my original dissertation writing group so many years ago, thank you so much for believing in me and encouraging me to continue even when I wanted to quit.
  7. 7. vii DEDICATION To JAB, thank you for loving me and believing that I could do this! To my parents, thank you for always loving me and for understanding and encouraging my continual need to learn something new.
  8. 8. viii TABLE OF CONTENTS Page TABLE OF APPENDICES ............................................................................................... xi   CHAPTER ONE: THE PROBLEM ................................................................................... 1   Problem Background .............................................................................................. 4   Problem Statement.................................................................................................. 6   Purpose of the Study............................................................................................... 6   Research Questions................................................................................................. 6   Limitations.............................................................................................................. 7   Delimitations........................................................................................................... 8   Definition of Terms................................................................................................. 8   Academic Support Teacher (AST).................................................................... 8   Constructivism.................................................................................................. 9   Cooperative/Collaborative Learning................................................................. 9   Library Standards.............................................................................................. 9   Perceptions...................................................................................................... 10   State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR™ ).................. 10   Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).............................................. 10   Importance of the Study........................................................................................ 11   CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE.................................................... 13   Constructivism...................................................................................................... 14   Dewey and Personal, Meaningful, Student-Centered Education.................... 16   Piaget and Developmental Stages................................................................... 19   Vygotsky and the Zone of Proximal Development......................................... 22   Bruner and Social Constructivism .................................................................. 25   von Glasersfeld and Radical Constructivism.................................................. 31   Constructivism in Science Education ............................................................. 34   Current Research on Science Education of Elementary Students ........................ 38   The How and Why of Science Learning......................................................... 39   Cooperative Learning and Collaboration........................................................ 45   Misconceptions in Science.............................................................................. 46   Use of Technology.......................................................................................... 48   Depth of Understanding.................................................................................. 51   Science and Literacy Connections.................................................................. 52   Staff Collaboration................................................................................................ 56   Partnering with Teachers ................................................................................ 56   Models for Collaboration................................................................................ 57   Libraries as Contributors to Academic Achievement........................................... 58   Support and Enhancement of Academic Achievement of Students ............... 58   Support of At-Risk and Special Needs Students............................................. 59   Growth in Student Scientific Inquiry.............................................................. 60   Summary............................................................................................................... 61  
  9. 9. ix CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY ......................................................................... 62   Research Design.................................................................................................... 63   Selection of Participants ................................................................................. 65   Obtaining Permissions .............................................................................. 66   Instrumentation ............................................................................................... 66   SISL Perceptions Questionnaire ............................................................... 67   Focus Group Discussions.......................................................................... 68   Methodological Assumptions ......................................................................... 69   Procedures....................................................................................................... 70   IRB Protection and Ethical Considerations .................................................... 72   Data Processing and Analysis............................................................................... 72   CHAPTER FOUR: FINDINGS........................................................................................ 75   Descriptive Data.................................................................................................... 76   School A.......................................................................................................... 79   School B.......................................................................................................... 80   School C.......................................................................................................... 80   School D.......................................................................................................... 81   Data Collection and Analysis................................................................................ 82   Librarians .............................................................................................................. 84   Research Question One................................................................................... 85   Collaborative Roles of Team Members .................................................... 86   Teacher’s Role in Collaboration ............................................................... 88   Lessons Before and After Stations............................................................ 90   Effects on Other Teaching ........................................................................ 90   Research Question Four.................................................................................. 91   Stations Overall Enhancement of Science Learning................................. 91   Use Of Best Practices in Science Learning............................................... 93   Support for Student Learning of Science Concepts Through Different Learning Styles ......................................................................................... 95   Support For Special Education and ELL Students ................................... 96   Academic Support Teachers of Science ............................................................... 96   Research Question Two .................................................................................. 97   Collaborative Role of Team Members...................................................... 98   Teacher’s Role in Collaboration ............................................................... 98   Lessons Before and After Stations............................................................ 98   Effects on Other Teaching ........................................................................ 99   Research Question Five ........................................................................................ 99   Stations’ Overall Enhancement of Science Learning ............................... 99   Use Of Best Practices in Science Learning............................................. 100   Support for Student Learning Of Science Concepts Through Different Learning Styles ....................................................................................... 103   Support For Special Education And ELL Students ................................ 104   Fifth Grade Teachers........................................................................................... 105   Research Question Three .............................................................................. 107   Collaborative Roles of Team Members .................................................. 107  
  10. 10. x Teacher’s Role in Collaboration ............................................................. 108   Lessons Before and After Stations.......................................................... 109   Effects on Other Teaching ...................................................................... 109   Research Question Six .................................................................................. 110   Stations Overall Enhancement of Science Learning............................... 110   Use Of Best Practices in Science Learning............................................. 111   Support for Student Learning of Science Concepts Through Different Learning Styles ....................................................................................... 113   Support for At-Risk, Special Education and ELL Students.................... 114   CHAPTER FIVE: DISCUSSION, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS 115   Discussion........................................................................................................... 118   Perceptions About Collaborative Roles of Team Members ......................... 119   Specific Perceptions About the Teacher Role .............................................. 120   Perceptions That Teachers Were Essential for the Lessons Before and After the Stations.................................................................................................... 121   Perceptions of Effects on Teaching of Other Lessons.................................. 122   Perceptions About Overall Enhancement of Science Learning.................... 123   Perceptions About Use of Best Practices...................................................... 124   Cooperative Learning and Collaboration................................................ 124   Misconceptions in Science...................................................................... 125   Prior Knowledge ..................................................................................... 127   Use of Technology.................................................................................. 128   Science and Literacy Connections.......................................................... 128   Perceptions About Supports of Different Learning Styles ........................... 129   Perceptions About Support for At-Risk, Special Education, and English Language Learners........................................................................................ 130   Conclusions......................................................................................................... 133   Implications for Practice..................................................................................... 134   Implications for Research ................................................................................... 136   Recommendations............................................................................................... 138   REFERENCES ............................................................................................................... 140   APPENDICES ................................................................................................................ 151  
  11. 11. xi TABLE OF APPENDICES Appendix Page A. District Approval Letter............................................................................................ 152 B. Sample of Principal Permission Letter...................................................................... 154 C. First Screen of Online Questionnaire with Consent.................................................. 156 D. Letter of Consent-Focus Group................................................................................. 158 E. Questionnaires for Participants-Teachers.................................................................. 161 F. Questionnaires for Participants-Librarians................................................................ 164 G. Questionnaires for Participants-ASTs....................................................................... 167 H. WebQuest Questionnaire for Teachers ..................................................................... 170 I. Permission to Use WebQuest Questionnaire.............................................................. 173 J. Compiled Questionnaire Responses........................................................................... 176 K. Focus Group Interview Transcript ............................................................................ 197 L. Compiled Blog Responses......................................................................................... 213
  12. 12. 1 CHAPTER ONE: THE PROBLEM Science scores of American students and the science literacy of the American population have been a concern for several decades (DeBoer, 2000; Yager, 2000). Spurred to action by the Soviet launching of Sputnik into space in 1957, an outcry for reforming science education began (Frelindich, 1998). According to the most recent reports, little ground is being gained (Fleischman, Hopstock, Pelczar, & Shelley, 2010; Gonzales et al., 2009; National Center for Education Statistics, 2011). For example, according to Trends in International Mathematics and Science Studies (TIMSS), fourth and eighth grade students’ scores in the United States showed no significant increases in 2007 when compared with the scores from 1995 (Gonzales et al., 2009). In addition, in 2007 only 15% of fourth graders and 10% of eighth graders scored at or above the level considered advanced. For both of these groups, these percentages were lower than the 1995 percentages for the fourth graders and the 1999 percentages for the eighth graders (Gonzales et al., 2009). In 2009, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) developed a new science framework to use for the science assessment given at grades 4, 8, and 12 (Aud et al., 2011). Reviewing the Texas scores from that year, it showed that 70% of fourth graders were at or above the basic level, 29% at or above the proficient level, and only 1% at the advanced level. Eighth graders, however, only had 64% at or above the basic level, 29% at or above the proficient level, and 2% at the advanced level. Data for grade 12 was not available at the state level (Aud et al., 2011). However, of even more importance than these mediocre test scores is a concern with what kind of students America is placing out into the world. For the 21st century, it is important that the students graduating from high school can do more than the basics, it is
  13. 13. 2 essential in this technological, information-saturated world that these students be problem-solvers, critical thinkers, creative, and be able to predict and adapt to rapid changes. As Berube (2008) noted, We must forgo this notion of churning out students who care only about what grade they made or what their score was on a standardized test, but instead lead the way and focus on training children how to think, how to criticize, how to deduct, how to problem solve, how to figure, how to argue, how to create, how to appreciate—only then will our educational “product” be superior to that of any other nation on earth, for one cannot have leadership without leaders. (p. 110) Numerous national organizations, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Board of Science Education (BOSE) of the National Research Council (NRC), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), and the National Center for Improving Science Education (NCISE) as well as the federal government, have called for a need to improve the science literacy of all Americans in order to prosper in a global society. For example, the NSF, created in 1950 by Congress, is “the only federal agency dedicated to the support of fundamental research and education in all scientific and engineering disciplines” (NSF, 2010). As outlined in the most recent strategic plan, “NSF envisions a nation that capitalizes on new concepts in science and engineering and provides global leadership in advancing research and education” (NSF, 2011, p. 3). Each year thousands of projects at universities and colleges receive funding from the NSF for research. In addition, since its inception, the NSF has supported education at all levels (NSF, 2008). The AAAS is another important organization that has a long history in support of science education. Begun in 1848, this organization has as its mission, “To advance science, engineering, and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people” (AAAS, 2012a, para.1). AAAS’s main extended education endeavor is Project 2061.
  14. 14. 3 Started in 1985, Project 2061’s main goal, according to AAAS, is “to help all Americans become literate in science, mathematics, and technology” (AAAS, 2012b, para. 1). In addition, the book Science for All Americans, developed as a result of Project 2061, “consists of a set of recommendations on what understandings and ways of thinking are essential for all citizens in a world shaped by science and technology” (Rutherford & Ahlgren, 1990, p. 11). More recently, the United States witnessed the launch of President Obama’s “Educate to Innovate” Campaign on November 23, 2009. This campaign is “a nationwide effort to help reach the administration’s goal of moving American students from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math achievement over the next decade” (“President Obama Launches,” 2009, para. 1). The federal government, as well as many other organizations and companies, are all expected to contribute to working with students to increase the number who are succeeding in science and math. As outlined in the campaign, the major goals include, • Increase STEM literacy so that all students can learn deeply and think critically in science, math, engineering, and technology. • Move American students from the middle of the pack to top in the next decade. • Expand STEM education and career opportunities for underrepresented groups, including women and girls. (“Educate to Innovate,” 2012, para. 6) However, it is important to take all the research and input from the national organizations and apply it to the actual education system. This current study is an example of one method that a specific district was using to bring about changes in their students’ science education. As described in the following (“Problem Background”) section, the overall problem with science education in K–12 is narrowed down to the actual results in one large district in South Texas.
  15. 15. 4 Problem Background The scores from the 2009 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) indicated that only 34% of elementary students “scored at or above proficient” (Banchero, 2011, para. 14). The state of Texas overall ranked average with 70% of the students scoring at or above basic and 29% scoring at or above proficient (U.S. Department of Education, 2009). Student scores on Texas’s state assessment, Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), show an 83% passing rate in science for all grades from the 2010–2011 school year (Texas Education Agency, 2011b). Reviewing the scores for fifth graders, overall state scores for 2011 indicate that 86% of students met the standard and fifth grade students in the metropolitan school district in central Texas where the current study took place actually had a 90% passing rate (Texas Education Agency, 2011c). However, based on information about the new state assessment, State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR™ ), “overall test difficulty will be increased by including more rigorous items” (“A Comparison of Assessment Attributes,” 2010, sec. 2). One area of particular concern is the first administration of the science- standardized test to students that occurs in the fifth grade. Since the test in fifth grade is the first time students are state-tested in science, this is a crucial year for building a solid foundation for all future science learning of the students. Based on this information, an idea was generated for a new way of presenting certain science information to fifth grade students. In addition, with the continual threat of budget cuts, finding new ways to showcase the respective expertise of the academic support teachers and the librarian would be helpful. A new program was created called Science Investigation Stations in the Library (SISL). In the school year 2010–2011, six
  16. 16. 5 different school librarians, including the current researcher, and their respective schools were chosen to pilot the program. These six schools designed three units of stations to use at their various schools. In the summer of 2011, a professional development session about the program was presented to 15–20 other librarians. These librarians then completed one or more sets of stations during the 2011–2012 school year. Of the campuses continuing to use SISL, the researcher chose four campuses that conducted a set of stations during the 2012–2013 school year to participate in this qualitative case study. The stations served to present concepts and ideas about various science topics for fifth grade students based on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for Science and the Library Standards created by the district under study. In Texas, fifth grade students are the first group to take a state-standardized achievement test to assess their scientific understandings. The stations include the concepts of using literacy to enhance understanding, as well as recent research that shows students can understand more complex science than is often believed (Metz, 2011). A study by Evagorou, Korfiatis, Nicolaou, and Constantinou (2009) presented support for using simulations as well as focusing the stations on specific skills. However, there is no documentation that shows that a program, such as the Science Investigation Stations in the Library (SISL), has been attempted as a way for improving fifth grade science learning. This program brought together a variety of experts on the individual campuses to meet the needs of the particular students at that particular campus. At the same time, the overall framework for the program, if successful, could be implemented in a variety of schools across the district and statewide.
  17. 17. 6 Problem Statement The problem was there had not been an evaluation of the effectiveness of the program Science Investigation Stations in the Library on the fifth graders’ science education or of the overall perceptions of the program from the views of the various participants, including librarians, academic support teachers of science (ASTs), and teachers, as implemented in four elementary libraries in a metropolitan school district in south central Texas. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this qualitative collective case study was twofold. The first objective was to analyze the perceptions of librarians, academic support teachers of science, and fifth grade teachers about the collaborative planning process of the Science Investigation Stations in the Library program. The second objective was to analyze the three groups’ perceptions of the impact on the fifth graders’ science education of the Science Investigation Stations in the Library program as implemented in four elementary libraries in a metropolitan school district in central Texas. Research Questions For the current qualitative collective case study, the researcher used several research questions to guide the study. The qualitative research questions were as follows: 1. How do the librarians, as team members of the Science Investigation Stations in the Library project, describe their experiences with the program? 2. How do the academic support teachers of science, as team members of the Science Investigation Stations in the Library project, describe their experiences with the program?
  18. 18. 7 3. How do the fifth grade teachers, as team members of the Science Investigation Stations in the Library project, describe their experiences with the program? 4. What, if any, of the science academic achievements of the fifth graders do the librarians attribute to the Science Investigations Stations in the Library project? 5. What, if any, of the science academic achievements of the fifth graders do the academic support teachers of science attribute to the Science Investigations Stations in the Library project? 6. What, if any, of the science academic achievements of the fifth graders do the fifth grade teachers attribute to the Science Investigations Stations in the Library project? The researcher used open-ended questions about perceptions on a questionnaire completed by all participants. The researcher then collected additional data from a focus group interview with librarians and focus group blogs with the librarians, academic support teachers of science, and fifth grade teachers. The collection of various pieces of data helped to provide an in-depth picture of the perceptions of the various participants— teachers, librarians, and academic support teachers—about the value of the program and its contributions to fifth graders’ science education. Limitations As noted by Bryant (2004), limitations of a study are those that come from methodology. A limitation to this qualitative study is the fact that participants may have completed the questionnaire with answers that they believed the researcher was expecting (Creswell, 2007). Also the open-endedness of the questions while providing rich data
  19. 19. 8 may not allow for easy correlation between the various members (Creswell, 2007; Yin, 2009). The schools chosen to participate may not have conducted the science investigation stations in the same manner at each location. The amount of time spent by the various classes, as well as the time of day, may have varied between the participating schools. In addition, the various years of experience of the various team members could have affected the implementation of the program, as well as the perceptions of any academic achievements. Finally, the amount of staff development received by the librarians could have had an effect on the overall implementation of the program. Delimitations According to Bryant (2004), delimitations are those factors that can affect generalizability. Inherent in the case study methodology is the fact that the purpose is to describe the specific case and is not geared for too much generalizability (Creswell, 2007; Yin, 2009). However, a delimitation unique to this current study was that not all schools participating had an academic support teacher and this would affect analysis of that particular collaborative member. Another delimitation was that the schools studied were in a large district in central Texas. Therefore, the results may not be generalizable to rural districts, districts in other parts of Texas, and school districts in other states. The researcher focused the study on fifth graders in science so the results may not be relevant to other grades or subject areas. Definition of Terms Academic Support Teacher (AST) As defined by the job description within the school district, the academic support teacher or AST is a teacher who provides instruction and aid for students in a particular
  20. 20. 9 subject area; in the case of this current study, science. Due to recent budget cuts, only those schools designated Title I by the federal government currently have an academic support teacher for science (L. Rollins, personal communication, January 11, 2012). Constructivism The concept of constructivism as a theory of learning is explored in the chapter two literature review. However, a concise definition, as it relates to science education and as considered for this current study, “is premised on the ideas that knowledge is ‘constructed’ on the basis of a person’s prior experiences” (Llewellyn, 2007, p. 55). Cooperative/Collaborative Learning According to the Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science (2005), cooperative and collaborative learning “refers to a variety of instructional arrangements that have the common characteristic of students working together to help one another learn” (Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science, 2005, para. 1). For this present study, part of the research served to discover how the teachers, ASTs and librarians perceive the use of cooperative/collaborative learning, with regards to its use in the Science Investigation Stations in the library. Library Standards Library standards were created by a district committee and aligned with the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Standards for the 21st Century Learner and the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for English Language Arts and Reading. The standards are also informed by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) National Educational Technology Standards (NETS*S) Performance Indicators for Students (Metropolitan District, 2010).
  21. 21. 10 Perceptions Perceptions are based not only on what is construed by the senses, but also on what is given attention at any one time. Perceptions involve what has been experienced as well as what is taken from that experience by the individual (James, 1891). Perceptions are also influenced by the need to ignore some information, change how some information is viewed, and “by blending incoming meanings with our past habits present desires, and future directions” (Allport, 1961, p. 262). For the purposes of this current study, the following definition of perception applies: It is a process of inference in which people construct their own version of reality on the basis of information provided through the five senses...strongly influenced by their past experiences, education, cultural values, and role requirements, as well as by the stimuli recorded by their receptor organs (Heuer, 1999, p. 7). State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR™ ) STAAR™ replaced the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) in Spring 2012 and administered to students in grades 3–8 in the subjects of math and reading at all grades, science in fifth and eighth grades, writing in fourth and seventh grades, and social studies in eighth grade (Texas Education Agency, 2011a). Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) TEKS are the state curriculum standards developed and adopted September 1, 1998 for all of the content areas and all grades K–12 (Texas Administrative Code, n.d.). Those TEKS dealing with fifth grade science were the focus of the current study. The science TEKS for grades K–12 were revised and became effective August 4, 2009 (Texas Education Agency, 2010).
  22. 22. 11 Importance of the Study While there has been much research on the positive effects that libraries and librarians can have on student achievement (Achterman, 2008; AASL, 2009; Hockersmith, 2010; Lance, Rodney, & Schwarz, 2010), as well as the effects of different levels of collaboration (Montiel-Overall, 2005), there has been limited research on specific examples of programs that demonstrate the highest levels of collaboration and the potential effect on student academic achievement. The current study of the implementation of the science stations may add to the growing body of knowledge about the impact the library and librarian can have on student achievement. In addition, this qualitative case study on the Science Investigation Stations in the Library may lead to understanding in several key areas in the school setting. First, the perceptions from the various members could provide better understanding about how teachers, librarians, and instructional specialists can collaborate together to improve student achievement lending support to ideals of librarians and teachers collaborating as presented by Montiel-Overall (2005). Second, information may be gained on best practices for implementation of the stations. Finally, the use of the science stations may have a positive impact on fifth graders’ mastery of essential science understandings, vocabulary, inquiry and concepts as suggested by Krueger and Stefanich (2011). This chapter included and introduction to the current qualitative study conducted on a program in a large metropolitan school district in Central Texas. The following chapter includes the literature review that includes information on constructivism, science learning of elementary students, staff collaboration, and libraries as support for student achievement. Chapter three is a presentation of the methodology of the entire study and
  23. 23. 12 includes information about the participants, the methodology used, and the data analysis. Chapter four contains a compilation of the findings from the data. Finally, the dissertation ends with chapter five that includes the discussion, conclusions, and recommendations based on the results of the research.
  24. 24. 13 CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE Science education reform became a hot topic in the late 1950s and continues to this day (National Research Council, 2007). In actuality, interest in the science research needs of America and the involvement of the federal government had begun during World War II and resulted in the formation of the National Science Foundation in 1950 (Mazuzan, 1994). Then in October of 1957, the Russians launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik (Garber, 2007). With the launching of Sputnik, the Foundation’s budget was increased and it began to address how to improve science education in the United States. In the 1980s, the publication of A Nation at Risk triggered another wave of standards and goals, including several reform efforts that led to higher average science scores (Berube, 2008). The 1990s continued to elicit a wide call for continued reform of science education for all students (Bybee, 1995). The trend in the 1990s, for the first time, inspired reform that would begin in elementary school and continue through high school. Finally, the most recent need for reform has only been made stronger with mandates in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 that required schools to begin assessing students in science starting by fifth grade (Michaels, Shouse, & Schweingruber, 2008). More than 50 years have passed since Sputnik and more than a decade of the 21st century is past. However, there is still an even greater need for science education in America. This time, the race is not into space, but rather a test of ingenuity and future leadership (Century, Rudnick, & Freeman, 2008). Individuals in the Central Texas district that is the focus of the study, based on a need for improving elementary science education, particularly at the fifth grade level, developed a science program that brings teachers, librarians, and academic support
  25. 25. 14 teachers of science (AST) together to implement science project stations in the library for fifth grade students. The purpose of the stations is to allow the fifth graders to have engaged, enriched experiences of certain science topics. This chapter is a review of the literature as it applies to the Science Investigation Stations in the Library (SISL) program. While no such program has been reviewed in the literature, there has been research on the various structures upon which the program was designed. Constructivism, particularly as it applies to science education, has been considered an important approach for science education since the 1980s (Tobin & Tippins, 1993). In addition, since the focus of the SISL program is on science education, it is important to review the current research on science education for students. Furthermore, the success or failure of SISL may be dependent on the collaborative process of the staff of fifth grade teachers, librarians, and academic support teachers of science involved in planning SISL. The sections of this chapter begin with a review of the learning theory of constructivism, the major theorists, and how constructivism has been applied to best practices for science learning in K–12. The following sections include current research on how students learn science as well as on staff collaboration, with a specific focus on the librarian–teacher collaboration research. Constructivism Constructivism in education is the belief that students have to build their own understandings “as a way of coming to know one’s world” (Brooks & Brooks, 1999, p. 23). The concept and ideas that have become known as constructivism have been around for decades (Brooks & Brooks, 1999). Berube (2008) stated that the ideas of constructivism were being used by educators at least a century before the term was used.
  26. 26. 15 However, the term itself is thought to have arisen from the reference Piaget (1935/1995) made about his views as a “constructivist” and Bruner’s (1961) reference to discovery in learning as making the student a “constructionist” (p. 26). The most recent edition to current science standards can be found in “A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas” (NRC, 2012). This document is the first step in a revision of the “National Science Education Standards” (NRC, 1996). The framework builds on the foundation of these standards as well as the work presented in two other documents, Science for All Americans (Rutherford & Ahlgren, 1993) and Benchmarks for Science Literacy (AAAS, 1993). In addition, two organizations, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) provided support and research included in the development of the framework (NRC, 2012). The framework was designed as a “broad set of expectations for students in science” (NRC, 2012, p. 1), so that by the end of 12th grade, all students would be able to meet the following expectations: • have some appreciation of the beauty and wonder of science; • possess sufficient knowledge of science and engineering to engage in public discussions on related issues; • are careful consumers of scientific and technological information related to their everyday lives; • are able to continue to learn about science outside school; • and have the skills to enter careers of their choice, including (but not limited to) careers in science, engineering, and technology. (NRC, 2012, p. 1) While the word constructivism is not used in any of the previously mentioned works, the major tenets of constructivism are built into the various standards and benchmarks and considered essential for learning. According to Berube (2008), the main idea of constructivism that children learn through discovery and their own experiences is the
  27. 27. 16 most vital piece of learning science. The five main principles of constructivism, as identified by Brooks and Brooks (1999) are as follows: • Teachers see and value their students’ points of view. • Classroom activities challenge students’ suppositions. • Teachers pose problems of emerging relevance. • Teachers build lessons around primary concepts and “big” ideas. • Teachers assess student learning in the context of daily teaching. (pp. ix–x) These principles are then expanded to identify the major practices of constructivist teaching. In order to understand the current perspectives on constructivism it is important to first go back and review the historical underpinnings of today’s ideas and then summarize the current research about constructivism applied specifically to science education (Peters & Stout, 2006). The beginning ideas of constructivism in education have their roots in the ideas of Dewey, as explained in the following section. Dewey and Personal, Meaningful, Student-Centered Education The origins of contemporary constructivism began with the work of Dewey, even though he never used the word constructivism in his writings (Berube, 2008). Dewey (1910/2005a) originally argued in 1916 that school should be like a small community where students learned to work together to solve real problems. While he made no specific mention of a library, Dewey (1910/2005a) regarded the other areas of a school, besides the classroom, as places where children could act more natural and become involved in discussion and working together. In How We Think, Dewey (1910/2005a) put forth a compelling argument for the place of curiosity in school, arguing for curiosity that is developed to become interested in problems raised by making observations, and based on the understanding of facts. Dewey (1910/2005a) directed teachers to work “to keep alive the sacred spark of wonder
  28. 28. 17 and to fan the flame that already glows” (p. 29). In a later publication, Democracy and Education, Dewey (1916/2005b) expanded on the idea of curiosity and learning, and stated that while it cannot be expected that children will make original discoveries comparable to the vast discoveries of man, it can be expected that they can make original discoveries that constitute learning for them. In other words, originality should not be viewed from the perfect idea or principle, but rather based on the individual student’s ability and achievement. Dewey (1932/1990) contended that students have four inherent responses that should be capitalized on in school. The first is that of language. Students enjoy talking and can express many ideas through their speech. According to Dewey (1932/1990), language is maybe the best resource that education has because it is the most basic form of expression for children, particularly in social situations. The second resource is the child’s proclivity to making things. Children like to play and, in play, they like to put things together. This creation of things and observing what happens is the third resource of inquiry. By directing this resource, schools can use this inherent characteristic to guide students to creating things that serve to explain new ideas and understandings. The final resource is that of artistic expression. From a young age students like to draw, build, and reshape objects. In some children, particularly younger children, this expression through art is often tied to the need to explain and express ideas. Dewey (1932/1990) argued that utilizing these four resources and using them in school will lead to more learning than in a more traditional setting of the teachers giving information with the students expected to remember it all.
  29. 29. 18 Dewey (1916/2005b) argued that students needed experiences that were personal to them and that learning occurred as they searched for solutions to real problems. He believed that a person was only an individual when he or she thinks for oneself (Dewey, 1916/2005b). In order to do that, the learner needed to have time for observing, reflecting, forming, and testing questions to expand and clarify his/her own learning. From Dewey (1932/1990) also came the idea of connecting current school experiences to prior experiences. Dewey (1910/2005a) argued for using prior experiences because to ask a child to solve a problem of which he/she has no prior experience is an act of futility. Students learn best when they are able to make connections to prior learning and the new activities. Dewey (1910/2005a) also pointed out that prior experience is not just what has been learned in school, but should also include many of the out-of-school experiences as well. Dewey (1932/1990) expressed that the child’s life in school needs to connect with the life outside school. Students have scattered and random ideas that can be organized by the teacher when he or she provides appropriate materials to direct the students’ ideas and interests toward the wanted objective (Dewey, 1932/1990). With regards to science and the scientific method, Dewey (1910/2005a) encouraged the use of hands-on learning and discovery learning, and mentioned that this learning did not have to occur in a laboratory or with fancy equipment. However, Dewey (1910/2005a) pointed out that: The entire scientific history of humanity demonstrates that the conditions for complete mental activity will not be obtained till adequate provision is made for the carrying on of activities that actually modify physical conditions, and that books, pictures, and even objects that are passively observed but not manipulated do not furnish the provision required. (p. 82)
  30. 30. 19 Dewey’s (1910/2005a) idea was that the students in school should be allowed to work through problems and ideas. He argued that students who are only sitting and receiving information are not apt to be learning much. Dewey (1910/2005a) made a strong argument that applies maybe even more today than it did when he wrote it: While it is not the business of education to prove every statement made, any more than to teach every possible item of information, it is its business to cultivate deep-seated and effective habits of discriminating tested beliefs from mere assertions, guesses, and opinions; to develop a lively, sincere, and open-minded preference for conclusions that are properly grounded, and to ingrain into the individual’s working habits methods of inquiry and reasoning appropriate to the various problems that present themselves. (pp. 23–24) Overall, Dewey’s contributions to constructivism include the idea of tying learning to prior experiences, focusing on students’ natural inclinations of imagination, curiosity, building, and talking to each other, and the idea that students need to be involved in the learning if real education is to take place. Piaget (1935/1995) added to Dewey’s ideas by providing a framework for the different stages of children. Piaget’s ideas as they apply to constructivism are the topic of the next section. Piaget and Developmental Stages Like Dewey, Piaget did not refer to his thoughts about learning as constructivism; others applied the term later. However, many of his ideas are incorporated into the learning theory of constructivism. Piaget is best known for his theory of developmental stages in children (as cited in Llewellyn, 2007). While the stages do not specifically address constructivism, they do provide a strong argument for the provision of hands-on materials, especially as students begin the transition into abstract concepts. However, Piaget clearly stated that students would pass through the stages at different rates. For
  31. 31. 20 example, in regards to science education, Piaget (1935/1995) claimed that as a student passed from the concrete operation stage to the propositional stage, if he/she was able to deduce hypotheses and conduct experiments to test them, then it would be essential for the schools to enhance these abilities in order to develop students who experiment and question as well as teachers who place importance on knowledge-gathering and exploration instead of the recitation of isolated facts. It was through this discussion that Piaget (1935/1995) recognized the important link between an experimental attitude and discovery learning. Piaget (1935/1995) realized that children learn in certain ways, depending on what developmental stage they are in at the time. For constructivism, this idea is expressed through the belief that children are bringing different levels of information and understanding based on where they are in regards to cognitive maturity (Berube, 2008). Piaget added several additional important assumptions about learning through his theory of genetic epistemology, “the study of how people acquire knowledge” (Gallagher & Reid, 2002, p. 21). Gallagher and Reid (2002) derived six principles of learning from genetic epistemology: 1. Learning is an internal process of construction; that is children’s own activities determine their reactions to environmental simulation. 2. Learning is subordinated to development; that is competence is a precondition for learning. 3. Children learn not only by observing objects but also by reorganizing on a higher mental level what they learn from coordinating their activities. 4. Growth in knowledge is often sparked by a feedback process that proceeds from questions, contradictions, and consequent mental reorganization. 5. Questions, contradictions, and the consequent reorganization of thought are often stimulated by social interaction. 6. Since awareness (or conscious realization) is a process of reconstruction rather than sudden insight, understanding lags behind action. (pp. 21–22)
  32. 32. 21 As viewed from a constructivist perspective, these six principles indicate that learning is a social process in which the student constructs one’s own knowledge based on the objects around one, activities one is provided, and as aided through the opportunity to reconsider and adjust one’s ideas and conclusions. Piaget (1935/1995) clarified that the knowledge was derived not from the actual materials used, but from how those materials were modified. Llewellyn (2007) explained that by including activities in the school that allow for students to participate in active learning, work with other students, and have opportunities to challenge their ideas, true learning occurs. Piaget’s (1935/1995) views of the teacher’s role also reflected constructivist thought. Since constructivist teaching involves providing many opportunities for the students to discover information for themselves, Piaget (1935/1995) believed that the ideal system would have teachers who, rather than directly giving information to the student, would instead direct the student to actively construct his/her own knowledge. In such a school, the teacher’s role becomes one of providing many opportunities and materials, as well as guiding and encouraging the learner. In other words, the teacher would be someone who provides the time, materials, and guidance for children to explore their curiosity and work to solve problems (Piaget, 1935/1995). Piaget (1935/1995) also provided the idea of a teacher using counter examples to help the student move forward in his/her thinking through self-correction. Piaget’s ideas of adaptation, assimilation, accommodation, and equilibration are important concepts in the constructivist framework. Adaptation is the ongoing method by which an individual is able to use the environment to learn something new and, at the same time, be able to adapt as the environment changes (Singer & Revenson, 1996). This
  33. 33. 22 adjustment occurs through the processes of accommodation and assimilation. Accommodation is when a child can modify his/her knowledge to incorporate a new idea or new outcome (Gallagher & Reid, 2002). Assimilation is a child’s ability to react to a new concept (Gallagher & Reid, 2002). Equilibration is when the child can self-correct or self-regulate when the situation causes a problem because it contradicts something the student previously thought or identifies a hole in the student’s learning experience (Gallagher & Reid, 2002). It involves finding a balance between accommodation and assimilation (Singer & Revenson, 1996). Also in line with constructivist thinking, both Piaget, and Piaget and Inhelder, put forth the idea that reality is constructed by the individual as he/she brings his/her own meaning to the situation, rather than something sitting there waiting to be found (as cited in Peters & Stout, 2006). According to Gallagher and Reid (2002), this learning principle means that children learn not only by observation, but by taking what they observe and restructuring it into a more abstract learning as they develop a set of concepts and principles. Piaget’s stages of development are important to the overall understanding of a child’s intellectual development. However, equally important are the contributions of Vygotsky. His recognition that an individual’s intellect was dependent upon an adapting of the social culture in which one found oneself added an important piece to how humans learn (as cited in Bruner, 1997). Vygotsky and the Zone of Proximal Development Vygotsky was a Russian psychologist who was the first to take into account that a person’s surrounding culture had an impact on his mental growth (as cited in Cole &
  34. 34. 23 Scribner, 1978). Vygotsky theorized that learning is formed socially and transmitted by the culture (John-Steiner & Souberman, 1978). In addition, Vygostky’s work addressed areas that some theorists believed to be missing from Piaget’s theories. “While Piaget stresses biologically supported, universal stages of development, Vygotsky’s emphasis is on the interaction between changing social conditions and the biological substrata of behavior” (John-Steiner & Souberman, 1978, p. 123). Vygotsky also emphasized the importance of play. He believed that play was the main means by which children developed the idea and understandings of culture (John- Steiner & Souberman, 1978). Vygotsky (1978) believed that play was essential for helping children to learn to satisfy certain needs as they continued to mature. Vygotsky (1978) pointed out the idea of perception as an important human characteristic involved in play. Humans are able to see real objects that other animals cannot. He emphasized the importance of imagination and rules involved in play (Vygotsky, 1978). From the point of view of development, creating an imaginary situation can be regarded as a means of developing abstract thought. The corresponding development of rules leads to actions on the basis of which the division between work and play becomes possible. (Vygotsky, 1978, pp. 103–104) Vygotsky provided constructivist education with several important ideas. The most important of these is the idea that the social aspects of learning have significance and influence intellectual development (Berube, 2008). He contended that a person’s increase in knowledge is directly related to the individual’s interaction in social groups. Vygotsky (1978) viewed learning as a social process and placed emphasis on the importance of language and conversation in learning. As such, he was opposed to the idea of the teacher only giving lectures as the sole expected source of learning (John- Steiner & Souberman, 1978). Vygotsky believed that students who are involved in
  35. 35. 24 discussion and feedback with teachers and peers would be able to take their learning to more advanced levels (Berube, 2008). Vygotsky developed the theory of the zone of proximal development (Peters & Stout, 2006). In the zone of proximal development theory, students have two levels at which learning can occur: independent and assisted (Llewellyn, 2007). The first is that level the child has reached as a result of previously completed levels. This level indicates what a child can complete or learn without help. However, it is at the second level, what Vygotsky (1978) called “the level of potential development” when students are able to continue learning a concept with the help of a teacher or further-advanced peers. The difference between these levels is what Vygotsky called “the zone of proximal development” (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 86). It is this zone in which Vygotsky suggested the best learning would occur. Rather than settling for what the student can do on his/her own, it is most beneficial to advance his/her learning through the assistance and support of a teacher or more advanced students. From this also comes the idea of scaffolding (Llewellyn, 2007; Peters & Stout, 2006). These two concepts work together to provide the student with the ability to learn more with the support of his peers and teacher. According to Berube (2008), Vygotsky placed emphasis on the role that social context had on cognition. Therefore, some of Vygotsky’s ideas have been identified as social constructivist. However, the individual most often associated with social constructivism, especially as it applies to science, is Bruner. His ideas about how the entire culture that an individual belongs to affects education are the topic of the next section.
  36. 36. 25 Bruner and Social Constructivism While Dewey, Piaget, and Vygotsky all placed some level of importance on the social aspect of learning, it was Bruner in the 1960s who introduced the idea of social constructivism (Bruner, 1961). His ideas go beyond the idea of cooperative learning into the idea of how learning is affected by the culture in which one is educated. So, while Bruner (1977) agreed that learning occurred best (or at all) when the individual had some part in constructing or discovering the information, he went a step further and claimed that how the culture interprets and presents information has a bearing on how the individual interprets the knowledge. In this section, Bruner’s views on the importance of the social aspect of learning and how it ties into science education will be reviewed. Bruner’s first book about how students learn was a printing of his report as chairman of the Cape Cod meeting in 1959 where scientists, teachers, and professors met to discuss K–12 science education and how it could be improved (Bruner, 1977). Even at this time, he expressed the importance of the need to educate all children to their full potential as a way of keeping the country strong even as technology and society became more complex (Bruner, 1977). This idea has even more importance now in the 21st century, as all individuals need to be able to understand and deal with the massive societal issues and technology advances. Much of Bruner’s thoughts and ideas have to do with the presentation of curriculum. Bruner (1977) added to or contributed three important ideas about curriculum. First, he believed that a child could learn any subject at any age so long as it was presented in an age-appropriate manner, or as he called it, “the child’s way of viewing things” (p. 33). He argued that the earlier topics were introduced, the easier it
  37. 37. 26 would be to expand on these ideas in later grades. One of the main ideas that Bruner (1977) emphasized is that subject content should be based on the main concepts that are essential to an understanding of the subject. By looking at the Texas state curriculum for science, it becomes apparent that this idea has been implemented as student standards build from year to year on several main concepts, such as cycles, patterns, systems, and models (Texas Education Agency, 2010). However, Bruner (1977) also pointed out that while it is important to present the essential and underlying ideas of a subject, such as science, it should be done in such a way that a student is able to make the connections for him- or herself. Bruner (1996) explained this further by declaring that knowledge that the student has discovered on his/her own is of more use because he or she can apply and relate the new information to his or her prior experiences. Based on this conclusion, Bruner (1996) declared that a student could be taught any subject in some form that was “honest,” although he admitted that he left “honest” undefined (p. xii). It is the struggle to figure out how to teach these concepts to students in a way that is understandable at the time and lead to greater learning later that is a primary issue in constructivist teaching. At the same time, it is important to link the present activities with the students’ prior knowledge (Berube, 2008). Bruner (1977) determined that there were three processes involved in learning that occurred at essentially the same time, and identified these three processes as “acquisition, transformation, and evaluation” (p. 48). The first, acquisition, is the acquiring of new information. This new information is often contradicting or overriding a previously held idea. Transformation is when a person takes learning and modifies it to
  38. 38. 27 make it fit new activities. Finally, evaluation is when a person determines if the new information that comes from the transformation is adequate to meet the need. Bruner’s (1996) third idea about curriculum, actually education in general, is what has become known as social constructivism and what he referred to as a “psycho-cultural approach to education” (p. 13). Bruner (1996) believed that the problems of education and the underlying psychology of a culture are closely related. He believed that questions about how a culture determines meaning, how a culture defines the idea of self and group, how language is acquired and all mental activity is dependent on the culture in which it occurs. He summed it up thusly, “Learning, remembering, talking, imagining: all of them are made possible by participating in a culture” (Bruner, 1996, p. xi). Bruner (1996) put forth nine tenets of his “psycho-cultural approach to education” (p. 13). The following paragraphs will explain each of these tenets, its role in social constructivism, and how it fits into the present ideas about K–12 science education. The first tenet is the perspectival tenet. This principle is the idea that the meaning of anything “is relative to the perspective or frame of reference in terms of which it is construed” (Bruner, 1996, p. 13). For example, Halloween has different connotations depending on family, religious, and cultural views. This principle is a particularly important one for science and constructivism. For science, it is important because it must be always kept in mind, as curriculum has to be updated to keep pace with the latest scientific findings. As for constructivism, it is important because it is a reminder to educators to be aware of the various perspectives in the classroom that may affect the information that the students construct.
  39. 39. 28 The second tenet is the constraints tenet. Basically this principle points out two important constraints to making meaning. First, Bruner (1996) contended that as a group humans have evolved in such a way that an individual cannot think of “Self” in a current state without being influenced by the past (p. 15). Second, Bruner (1996) believed that humans are constrained by limits of language and symbol systems that are available to the mind. The third tenet is the constructivist tenet. The reality that any person constructs is in some respect influenced by the traditions and the culture in which he/she is found (Bruner, 1996). With this tenet, Bruner (1996) emphasized an important objective of education as a whole. A goal of education should be to aid students in learning the traditions and culture in which they are located, providing them the ability to adjust to the world they live in and to provide them tools to be able to create change when needed (Bruner, 1996). The fourth tenet is the interactional tenet. This principle is the idea that learning is passed on through interaction with others in the culture. Bruner (1996) saw the idea of the classroom being a community of learners as a direct reflection of this particular tenet, with the teacher as the director. He emphasized with this tenet that whatever else the cultural–psychological approach is, the concentration is with viewing learning as a process by which individuals learn from interacting together and only through mutual involvement rather than just being told information. Bruner (1996) provided a strong argument for changing the school culture as a whole. On his views of schools that work as a community of learners, he contended that what was known at the time about learning
  40. 40. 29 was that schools that used student participation, collaboration, and were student-directed had more successful students (Bruner, 1996). The fifth tenet is the externalization tenet. The focus of this tenet is the idea that it is not enough to think about ideas; the ideas need to be expressed as something more permanent that can be shared with the culture. One of the main ideas behind constructivism is that students be allowed to work and share ideas. It is the resulting products from these sessions of working together that give these ideas the permanence that Bruner (1996) discussed. The sixth tenet is the instrumentalism tenet. With this principle, Bruner (1996) discussed the ideas of talent and opportunity. The main point he made is that regardless of how a person is educated it is going to have consequences in that individual’s later life. He raised the question of whether or not current educational standards do enough to make sure that the talents of all students are encouraged. Bruner (1996) also pointed to the struggle that continues today with providing all students with an equal chance to reach their full potential and to have the same opportunities to excel and grow. The seventh tenet is the institutional tenet. Schools act as an institution as they prepare the students to become productive members of society. The problem is when the school is at odds regarding the best way to pass along the culture of the society. Bruner (1996) closed the section on this tenet with an argument that has bearing on any current educational trends, and one that this dissertation serves to address. In order to improve education, schools need teachers who are involved in and stand behind the proposed reforms (Bruner, 1996).
  41. 41. 30 The eighth tenet is the tenet of identity and self-esteem. This tenet deals with education’s role in the development of a person’s self or identity. Bruner (1996) stated that if school is going to be used as an entry into a culture, then it is important to constantly be reassessing what the school is doing to help the student gain an understanding of his/her own abilities, what Bruner described as “his sense of agency” and at the same time making sure that the student has a realistic view of his/her ability to cope with his/her world both during the school years and after or, “his self-esteem” (p. 39). This tenet is connected to constructivism because it directly links to helping a student by encouraging his strengths and helping him to overcome or cope with his weaknesses by guiding him to construct his learning. The final tenet is the narrative tenet. This tenet, maybe more than any of the others, directly addresses the topic of the current study. It is the idea that story can be used to help with meaning-making and identity-building. Bruner (1996) specifically referenced science in this section as one area of education that could benefit greatly from having narratives used to help make science seem more human, more interesting, and more doable for K–12 students. Bruner (1996) argued for “narrative as a mode of thinking, as a structure for organizing our knowledge, and as a vehicle in the process of education, particularly in science education” (p. 119). One of the current objectives in science education reform addresses the idea of combining literature and science as a way of enhancing both subjects for students. Since his early days as the chairman of the 1959 Cape Cod meeting, Bruner (1996) had made important observations about science education. He was personally influenced by the ideas of Karplus, who was an important person in the science reform
  42. 42. 31 movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Bruner (1996) took inspiration from Karplus because Bruner believed that Karplus understood that science was not something sitting and waiting to be found, but rather that science was something that was constructed in the mind of the individual. Bruner (1996) knew that science could be fun, should be fun, and that students would enjoy learning science if the proper methods were used. He believed that science from a young age should be about learning how science is made, rather than only being drilled on what is already known or, as he called it, finished science (p.127). He believed that science classes needed to be more like what real scientists do including humor, the wild questions, the speculations, and the varied and sometimes odd ways of approaching a problem. In other words, social constructivism should be the norm in science classes, not the exception. Bruner contributed much to the field of science education. He provided strong arguments for the need to view learning through a social constructivist lens. He also raised important points about curriculum and how it should be taught. However, the subject of constructivism with regards to science education would not be complete without including a discussion of von Glasersfeld’s radical constructivism. von Glasersfeld and Radical Constructivism One of the most recent contributors to science education and constructivism is von Glasersfeld and his idea of radical constructivism. His contributions to science education in the 1980s and 1990s served to shine a light on several issues and questioned the current situation at the time (as cited in Tobin, 2007). Von Glasersfeld (2005) claimed he first used the term radical constructivism in 1974 because of what he considered to be the incomplete use of Piaget’s work. He felt that many developmental
  43. 43. 32 psychologists were using Piaget’s ideas on constructivism, but were not delving into the epistemological connections. According to von Glasersfeld (2004), constructivism serves to view knowledge not as what may or may not exist, but instead on what has been proven. In other words, it is based on the idea that all thinking, language, and learning are developed for an individual from his/her experiences and that anything outside these experiences cannot be included (von Glasersfeld, 2004). In his opinion, this view of constructivism has four important implications for education. First, he contended there is a major distinction in certain educational procedures (2004). Some are geared to what he referred to as training and others towards teaching. Training is when students are asked to memorize and learn through repetition. Teaching, on the other hand, is geared to eliciting understanding. He acknowledged that both have their place in education (2001). However, training should be used selectively and only for the appropriate tasks, such as learning the days of the week or the correct order of the months of the year (von Glasersfeld, 2001). Next, von Glasersfeld (2001) further stated that research and education should be focused on trying to figure out what is going on in the students’ heads rather than what they are actually saying. For example, many words in any particular subject may have specialized meanings about which, while the teacher may understand, the students often have different ideas. It is important to uncover these ideas in order to avoid misconceptions and to find ways to guide the students to the accepted scientific definitions and understandings (von Glasersfeld, 2001). Moreover, the teachers will know that they cannot recite the information and expect students to learn. There is an understanding students have to build their own
  44. 44. 33 knowledge and, as such, language is not the means of transmitting information, but rather a tool to help direct the students’ construction of knowledge. Teaching a concept should not be the teacher presenting the facts; rather, it should involve activities that will get students doing their own thinking about the particular concept (von Glasersfeld, 2001). It is important that teachers encourage students to talk about their thinking as a way of reflection and as a way of clarifying understanding. At the same time, it is important that teachers know the subject matter well enough that they can produce a number of situations so that the desired concepts can be evolved. Finally, students’ mistakes and answers that are unexpected should be regarded as ways to glean how, at that point in their learning, they are organizing the information. Teachers should avoid saying that a student’s work is wrong. Any effort by students needs to be acknowledged in an effort to maintain interest and motivation. Most children have put some thought into an answer and it is a reflection of their thinking at the time, even if it is not the correct answer (von Glasersfeld, 2001). Overall, these four implications, when considered in science classrooms, have the ability to change for the science education of all students for the better. While some would argue that there is no time to conduct the kind of learning considered by von Glasersfeld (2001) to be true teaching, he contended that time spent on a few worthwhile experiments can lead students to greater learning, provide better experiences for them to relate to in the future, and “they will have learned to think” (p. 12). Future learning will be more productive, students will have more motivation, and they will be able to apply what they have learned about learning to all subjects, thereby improving overall learning.
  45. 45. 34 In summary, Dewey introduced the idea that learning is personal and should be student-centered. Piaget added to this understanding through his developmental stages and genetic epistemology. Vygotsky then provided the ideas of zone of proximal development and scaffolding. Bruner provided deeper understanding of the social aspect of learning that the earlier theorists had alluded to. Finally, von Glasersfeld explained what are the most important implications of constructivist thought as applied to education. The next section includes specifics of how their views have been combined to apply constructivism to the field of science education. Constructivism in Science Education Berube (2008) believed that science was a subject that for students to truly learn it required teachers to use methods that would enable students to be independent thinkers, able to question ideas and construct their own knowledge. In today’s science classroom, the standards provided by different organizations all point to constructivism as a necessary component for science education (NRC, 1996; Rutherford & Ahlgren, 1990). Peters and Stout (2006) summarized the use of constructivism as the teacher’s ability to know the standards, her individual students, and then being able to construct lessons that meet the needs of all of them. Berube (2008) pointed out that those who teach using constructivist methods do so because they believe that in order for a child to truly understand something the child must create his/her own cognitive, mental, moral, and social knowledge. In order to help students with developing this new knowledge, it is vital to take into account their prior experiences in order to build new science knowledge (Cobern, 1993). So, in constructivism, learning occurs when a student makes a change to his prior
  46. 46. 35 knowledge by replacing it, adding to it or modifying it (Cobern 1993). As Tobin and Tippins (1993) pointed out, science knowledge cannot exist without the individuals who believe it. Rather, science is explanations mutually agreed upon about the events and phenomena found in the world. Brooks and Brooks (1999) proposed several “guiding principles of constructivism” (p. 33). These include finding problems of importance to students, designing learning around a set of key concepts, including and valuing the students’ viewpoints, and using assessment to improve learning. Berube (2008) expanded and added to this list with the main components of constructivism as applied to science education. These principles and components are as follows: • Concept formation: The process through which individuals develop understandings. It is a constant process and using students’ prior experiences helps them to relate the concepts from school to their home and cultural concepts. • Cooperative learning: Based on the ideas from Dewey (1932/1990) about social learning; its use in the subject of science allows for various opinions and ideas to help with solving problems, making hypotheses, and making new discoveries. • Alternative assessment: Using assessment to address the higher-level thinking skills. These include performance-based testing and project-based assignments as well as use of rubrics, journals, portfolios, advanced questioning, and concept maps.
  47. 47. 36 • Hands-on/active learning: In science education, this involves students performing experiments and working with the tools and objects of the different science topics. • Student-centered learning: “Research shows that students learn more when they have some ownership in the learning process: the basis of constructivism” (Berube, 2008, p. 30). In order for a science classroom to be considered a constructivist classroom, all of these components and principles must be incorporated as often as possible. For over 100 years, the learning of science meant the learning of facts. However, according to Good, Wandersee, and St. Julien (1993), there are several reasons why this rote learning of facts is not effective. For starters, memorization is not very useful or lasting, scientific information is not concrete and often changes—sometimes even contradicting early learning—and learning facts is a lower level of knowledge than understanding the overarching big ideas. In addition, teaching should not be the delivery of knowledge. Rather, it should be a sharing between the teacher and the learner that is beneficial to both and that activates the growing of knowledge and understanding (Good et al., 1993). Also, facts by themselves may be too separated or unconnected and cannot by themselves allow the learner to actually gain science understanding (Good et al., 1993). Furthermore, facts are only the concepts or labels used by individuals to think about science (Good et al., 1993), but deep learning only occurs when these new concepts are connected to those concepts already contained in memory. From these concepts are derived constructions. Constructions come from taking a number of concepts that are
  48. 48. 37 related through embedded connections (Good et al., 1993). From these constructions, a learner can begin to understand the principles of science that can then be grouped into theories, which are the highest ranking. Using theories is how individuals “describe, predict, and explain large ‘chunks’ of the natural world” (Good et al., 1993, p. 76). In constructivist classrooms, teachers are still in charge. However, instead of providing all the answers, the teachers present the students with problems, asking them to work out a solution, which then places the importance on the process rather than the final answer and helps to make the learning clear in the students’ minds. The emphasis is on students working out their own understandings rather than the teacher simply giving them information to memorize (Berube, 2008). This does not, however, mean that teachers are allowing students to continue to believe wrong theories or information. As Tobin and Tippins (1993) pointed out, it is still the teacher’s responsibility to ensure that students are learning what is considered by society at the time to be credible and appropriate. By applying the theories of Dewey, Piaget, Vygotsky, Bruner, and von Glasersfeld, a constructivist science classroom is one that is centered on the students and allows them to explore different ideas. According to Berube (2008), constructivism does not provide what to teach or how to teach, but rather serves as encouragement to educators to guide students’ learning through their instructional practices and classroom environment. In addition, the teacher provides a wide range of activities centered on helping the students to expand and develop the language and understanding of scientific concepts (Peters & Stout, 2006). These activities include the use of real-world problems and situations that allow the students to use their prior experiences to construct their own
  49. 49. 38 learning through interaction with other students (Applefield, Huber, & Moallem, 2000). According to Yore (2004), The pedagogical structure for learning in an interactive-constructivist model is shared by the learner and the teacher. The basic constructivist assumptions about the role of prior knowledge, the plausibility of alternative ideas, and the resiliency of these ideas are preserved in an interactive-constructivist perspective; however professional wisdom, the accountability of public education, and the priorities of schools mediate decisions about what and how to teach in the science classroom. (p. 85) While constructivism is considered to be the current best practice for teaching science, there are other important issues being addressed in the research as to exactly how students, particularly elementary students, are best able to learn sciences. The following section serves as an overview of the most prevalent trends and issues in teaching science to elementary students. These ideas include cooperative learning as an essential teaching practice, understanding and building on students’ misconceptions, the use of simulations and/or models, the growing research about the connections between science and literacy, and questions about what should be taught and when. Current Research on Science Education of Elementary Students Since near the beginning of the American public education system, there have been those arguing for science instruction as an important component of the curriculum. In addition, many have long pointed out that PK–5 science is necessary for laying the foundation of science knowledge necessary for future science learning that is essential for success in the 21st century (Century et al., 2008). From the beginning, the focus for what kind of science curriculum should be included was focused on student-centered, hands-on, real-life experiences. However, what actually occurs in most public schools is far from these expectations (Century et al., 2008).
  50. 50. 39 The current research on science education of elementary students is wide and, at times, somewhat limited. For example, in a review of effective programs for elementary science, Slavin, Lake, Hanley, and Thurston (2012) found that only 17 studies met their criteria, one of which was that it had to take place in an elementary school. Slavin et al. reported that studies of experiments with alternative science programs were almost non- existent. Research in science education for past 20 years has focused on how students conceive of science, and been too focused on the individual and not taken into account “factors such as sociocultural context and the nature of language” (Feldman, 2004, p. 141). While much research occurred in the 1990s, the research of the past several years has been more on specific case studies or reviews of older literature. However, there has been some research done on several key components of constructivist concepts, as well as in the area of combining science and literacy. The following section begins by an examination of the research about science learning in general, and then a review of the following key areas: the idea of a learning cycle, research on cooperative learning in science classes, students’ science misconceptions, use of technology, depth of understanding of elementary students, and findings on the science–literacy connection. The How and Why of Science Learning The current ideas about science learning are centered on a growing need for a scientifically literate society. According to Bencze and Alsop (2009), scientific literacy involves four broad categories: 1. Products education, which means to develop a working understanding of the important principles of science and technology.
  51. 51. 40 2. HPSST education, which means to develop a working understanding of the history, philosophy, and sociology of science and technology. 3. Knowledge building, which means learning through student-directed inquiry. 4. WISE activism, which means being able to address the wellbeing of individuals, societies, and environments. Bencze and Alsop (2009) claimed it was apparent that in most North American schools the focus was on only one of the categories—products education—to the great detriment of the other three. Furthermore, Conderman and Woods (2008) presented a compelling argument when they questioned the lack of science being taught in school, particularly in elementary school. They argued that science is much more than memorizing facts or passing multiple-choice tests; it is not even just experiments (Conderman & Woods, 2008). However, as reported by the NRC (2012), a number of organizations are working to change the course of science education in the United States. This report is considered the first step in what is hoped to eventually bring about changes to state standards that will focus on fewer concepts and a more complete sequence of learning for K–12 science. As a precursor to the framework, Michaels et al. (2008) organized the idea of becoming scientifically literate around four “strands” (p. 19). These strands are as follows: • Strand 1: Understanding scientific explanations. In order to be proficient in science, students need to know, use, and interpret scientific explanations of the natural world. Within this strand is the understanding that students will have to learn certain facts, laws, principles, and theories.
  52. 52. 41 • Strand 2: Generating scientific evidence. Proficiency in science entails generating and evaluating evidence as part of building and refining models and explanations of the natural world. This strand includes students being able to design investigations and models, as well as use the appropriate tools to conduct and evaluate the information. Students need opportunities to observe and use models and representations in science. • Strand 3: Reflecting on scientific knowledge. This strand includes gaining an understanding of the history of science and also how new scientific knowledge is generated and revised. • Strand 4: Participating productively in science. According to Michaels et al. (2008), “Science is a social enterprise governed by a core set of values and norms for participation” (p. 21). This strand is often overlooked in education, but considered a vital component, especially in the attempts to get underrepresented groups of students more involved in advanced science learning. In order to advance science learning, teachers need to provide science investigations that are based on meaningful issues, and through which students are provided ongoing support and instruction from the teachers (Michaels et al., 2008). However, effective learning requires that students take control of their learning (Pratt & Pratt, 2004). Students must be able to use scientific knowledge in their day-to-day lives. They also must be able to do science. This means being able to participate in activities comparable to the activities of actual scientists (Feldman, 2004). The importance of
  53. 53. 42 learning science has been established and currently, the concern is more about how to teach science. The NRC (as cited in Pratt & Pratt, 2004) summarized what is currently known about how students learn science: 1. Students build new knowledge and understanding on what they already know and believe. This concept is further expanded on in the section about misconceptions. 2. Students formulate new knowledge by modifying and refining their current concepts and adding new concepts to what they already know. 3. Understanding science is more than knowing facts; it involves placing and retrieving them in a conceptual framework. In order to advance student learning, it is important to scaffold new ideas in a way that helps students to increase their scientific understandings. It is also important to involve the children both with what is being learned and in tracking their progress. 4. Learning is mediated by the social environment in which learners interact with others. 5. The ability to apply knowledge to novel situations (transfer of learning) is affected by the degree to which students learn with understanding in a variety of contexts. In addition, Harlen, Elstgeest, and Jelly (2001) provided several general strategies to use with children to improve science learning. These strategies are providing motivation, asking the right questions, use of and expanding from children’s ideas, using investigations, helping children to learn the basic science process skills of observation
  54. 54. 43 and communication, and finally, assessing students through formative assessment, feedback, and self-assessment. One way to meet all of these criteria is through the use of a learning cycle. In the 21st century, the development of learning cycles most often used in science has been developed from the original three- and five-phase cycles. The current cycles have only elaborated on or extended from these two earlier cycles (Marek, 2009). The theoretical foundations of the learning cycle currently consist of “(a) nature of science, (b) purposes and standards of school science, and (c) constructivist learning theory” (Marek, 2009, p. 141). According to Yore (2004), many of the common science programs in K–12 are based on “an interactive-constructivist modified learning cycle (engage, explore, consolidate, and assess)” (p. 84). A research-based instructional model includes five phases: engagement, exploration, explanation, elaboration, and evaluation (Pratt & Pratt, 2004). This is known as the 5E model. In the district used for this current study, STEMscopes, an online science curriculum for K–12 that provides hands-on activities, evaluations, tools for correct misunderstandings, activities for expanding learning, and many teacher resources (Rice University, 2012) is being used in the district’s Title I schools and is based in the 5E instructional model. In addition, the district’s curriculum scope and sequence utilize the same model for science instruction. Additionally, a new framework has emerged that places emphasis on the integration of science content and processes. This integration is a move away from the previous distinction that had been made about keeping science content and science processes separate (Michaels et al., 2008). It has been discovered that true science
  55. 55. 44 learning includes learning the content and the appropriate processes at the same time (Michaels et al., 2008). The fact that concepts and processes are co-dependent has significance for the types of activities children need to have in school and the role that the teacher has in these activities (Harlen et al., 2001). The most recent research in science deals with identifying core concepts (NRC, 2012), and then using learning progressions to build on these concepts through the school years (Corcoran, Mosher, & Rogat, 2009; Michaels et al., 2008; NRC, 2012; Pratt, 2012). While still in the research stages, the idea of the learning progressions is that students need to work with these core concepts for an extended period of time, building onto the knowledge base progressively through a number of years (NRC, 2012). While Texas is not a state that has adopted the Common Core Standards, it can be seen that the most recent research has been applied to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) as it has students moving through each grade to increasingly more complicated information with a limited number of overarching concepts, such as matter and energy and earth and space (Texas Education Agency, 2010). In summary, in order for children to learn science, it is important for them to have opportunities to develop ideas based on evidence and that are shared by the world they live in (Harlen et al., 2001). Through ongoing work with the Framework for K-12 (NRC, 2012) and continued research on learning progressions, the future of science education for K–12 students has the potential to be vastly improved. However, the research from the past several years has also provided several other key components to effective science teaching.
  56. 56. 45 Cooperative Learning and Collaboration One way to best facilitate learning is through cooperative groups. Cooperative learning has long been regarded as an effective learning method for students (Dewey, 1990). According to Berube (2008), students involved in cooperative learning gain better critical thinking skills, have better attitudes about science, can collaborate more successfully, have a healthier mental attitude, and perceive grades to be more just. According to Michaels et al. (2008), communication and collaboration are important components of effective science teaching and learning. However, with science terminology, it is important to make sure students are clear on the scientific use of words as opposed to the everyday usage. One example is the use of scientific argumentation in the classroom, a concept that is vastly different than what is generally thought of by argumentation. Science argumentation is used to gain understanding and involves mutual participation. It is also important that the teacher allow time for talk in different settings including group, small group, and partners and that the teacher is able to guide student talk through a variety of methods such as restating a response, asking students to add to responses, encouraging further information and explanations, and allowing wait-time between responses and answers (Michaels et al., 2008). Group discussions can also play an important role in helping students learn by providing talk-time with their peers in order to answer questions, gain clear meanings of science concepts, discuss and clarify misunderstandings and differences of opinion, create new questions and find ways to investigate them, and find solutions to problems (Tobin & Tippins, 1993). Discussions in science classrooms are important as a means for discovering
  57. 57. 46 students’ thinking and misconceptions. These discussions also help to add to students’ overall science learning (Winokur, Worth, & Heller-Winokur, 2009). The next section includes a review of current research on the idea of misconceptions and the role they can play in science learning. Misconceptions in Science It is important to use children’s ideas about science and use them to lead to more scientific ideas. How teachers can influence learning and help students’ ideas to become more scientific will always depend on first learning the ideas that children hold. While there cannot be strict steps to follow; research has shown that student ideas usually are unscientific for one of the following reasons: They may be formed from limited experience. Be influenced by perceptions rather than logic. Take account of only one of several relevant features. Result from faulty reasoning or use of nonscientific process skills. Be specific to one context. Indicate a misunderstanding of words. (Harlen et al., 2001, p. 60) It is dependent on the teacher to try to uncover which of the above reasons has led to the student’s misconception and then work from there to lead the student to the appropriate concept. In order to lead the child to the more accurate conception, the teacher must understand what steps the student must take and what scaffolding is necessary to help the student (Olson, 2009). Exploration is not enough on its own. In order to move from their current understandings to the new ideas, it is important that the teacher provide the necessary scaffolding (Olson, 2009). Children 

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