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The potential of earth science for the development of primary school science

Balmer, Denise Joan; (2019) The potential of earth science for the development of primary school science. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This thesis considers that teaching and learning of parts of the science curriculum in English primary schools may be successfully developed through using aspects of earth science. Earth science is identified as a subject that could enhance knowledge, understanding and enthusiasm that would be ongoing through primary school, using local examples and leading to increased interest in science at secondary level and beyond. The author, an experienced earth scientist and teacher, reviews the literature pertaining to teaching and learning, especially in primary schools and in science curriuculae. A mixed methods approach was adopted for data collection. A questionnaire to trainee primary teachers revealed a lack of memorable childhood science. A second questionnaire administered with primary science leaders showed whilst most of them preferred to teach in a constructivist manner, classroom sizes and class numbers along with an overloaded curriculum lessens the feasibility of this. The analyses of these questionnaires also identified some shortfalls in primary teachers’ thinking about the nature of science. Intervention earth science lessons in two primary schools where the teachers were provided with after school CPD sessions, identified ways that earth science could increase children’s knowledge and understanding, along with enjoyment in the classroom. Classroom observations identified the motivating influence of using a well-known local resource: soil. Teacher self-efficacy also increased. Finally, an analysis of trainee teacher and children’s earth science workshops showed that, when properly taught, short, up to two hour, sessions of earth science CPD improved knowledge, understanding and confidence as well as proving motivational. It is argued that earth science examples can be used to exemplify chemistry and physics concepts through using everyday events to the benefit of understanding more about how our planet works. Over time, it is proposed, this could increase general interest in science and scientific literacy.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The potential of earth science for the development of primary school science
Event: UCL (institute of Education)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
Keywords: earth science, primary school science
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10077655
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