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Seeing the natural world: a tension between pupils’ diverse conceptions as revealed by their visual representations and monolithic science lessons

Reiss, Michael; Boulter, Carolyn; Tunnicliffe, Sue Dale; (2007) Seeing the natural world: a tension between pupils’ diverse conceptions as revealed by their visual representations and monolithic science lessons. Visual Communication , 6 pp. 99-114. Green open access

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Abstract

In this paper we report on drawings of the natural environment produced by a sample of 13-14 year-olds. One of our interests is in the extent to which these young people see the world in the way rewarded in science lessons. With rare exceptions, school science generally assumes that for any scientific issue there is a single valid scientific conception so that alternative conceptions are misconceptions. The drawings reveal a plurality of ways in which the natural environment is portrayed and we conclude that there is scientific as well as other worth in this diversity. We argue that schools need to take account of this diversity; many pupils will not be interested in a single, monolithic depiction of the natural world in their school science lessons.

Type: Article
Title: Seeing the natural world: a tension between pupils’ diverse conceptions as revealed by their visual representations and monolithic science lessons
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: a. Children's scientific understanding and interpretation of the natural world b. ESRC-funded study of children's drawings, using methods derived from the field of visual communication. c. We argue that the drawings reveal a diversity of ways in which children can understand ecological relationships in the natural world and that school science education fails to acknowledge this diversity. We connect this with the acknoweldged failure of school science to maintain the interest of young people during their formal education. d. Pre-publication versions of the paepr were given as talks at the European Science Education Research Association Biennial Conference (Barcelona, 2005) after refereeing and at the University of Waikato, New Zealand (2006) as an invited talk. e. Drawings obtained from six pupils in each of nine primary and four secondary schools in England. This paper concentrates on drawings obtained from 23 year 9 pupils. f. Standard refereeing for an academic journal. g. Carol Boulter and Sue Dale Tunnicliffe collected the data. Michael Reiss devised the framework for analysis, analysed all the data and wrote the paper. Copyright © 2007 by SAGE Publications
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10000111
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