Examining the science learning opportunities provided for young children by the combination of teacher-guided play and conceptually orientated, child-guided play

Year: 2015

Author: Sliogeris, Marija, Almeida, Sylvia

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In recent years, the importance of positive early science experiences on students’ future science achievement has been emphasized. Therefore, there is a need for science teaching approaches that allow young children to learn both concepts and skills in an authentic, engaging way that links science knowledge to everyday life. Play based science learning approaches allow children to experience the wonder and discovery inherent in scientific endeavour, while developing an inquiring mind and engaging in rich learning of scientific concepts that is meaningful because it is learnt in context and is intrinsically motivated.
Research into science learning through play has been predominately carried out in pre-school rather than primary school settings. Therefore, it is the purpose of my presentation to present my research study that examines the science learning opportunities provided by play based approaches in the lower primary school context, exploring the role that play can have in the lower primary school science curriculum.
Acknowledging the crucial role that intentional teaching has in facilitating learning through play, this research study seeks to examine how a form of intentional teaching practice, teacher guided play, in conjunction with child guided play, influences children’s learning of science concepts in primary school. Currently in progress, the study aims to explore the science learning opportunities provided by conceptually orientated, open-ended, play based science learning experiences.
An educational research experiment methodology aims to discover how teaching practice that is based on theories and concepts developed by previous research can result in improved teaching and learning (Hedegaard, 2008). By using this methodology in combination with a case study methodology, the study examines a conceptually-orientated, play based science learning sequence implemented in a lower primary school class. Participatory research practices allow children to share their own knowledge about their learning, providing a multi-perspective understanding. Using a Cultural-historical framework, I draw on the concepts of everyday knowledge and scientific knowledge to provide an understanding of how two types of play based learning – teacher guided, and child guided – can support children’s development of scientific concept knowledge that is built on, and connected to their everyday knowledge.