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How young children understand electric circuits: Prediction, explanation and exploration

Glauert, EB; (2009) How young children understand electric circuits: Prediction, explanation and exploration. International Journal of Science Education , 31 (8) pp. 1025-1047. 10.1080/09500690802101950. Green open access

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Abstract

This paper reports findings from a study of young children's views about electric circuits. Twentyeight children aged 5 and 6 years were interviewed. They were shown examples of circuits and asked to predict whether they would work and explain why. They were then invited to try out some of the circuit examples or make circuits of their own choosing. Children expressed a variety of views about the connections needed in a circuit, offered different kinds of explanation and showed differing levels of competence in circuit making. The range of responses showed similarities to those of older students found in previous research. The relationship between practical competence, prediction, and explanation was not straightforward. For example, children with similar levels of practical competence made different predictions or offered different kinds of explanation. Analysis of the circuits children chose to construct suggested influences of existing competence and knowledge. In particular, some children tested out circuit examples about which they had been unsure during the interview, while others explored circuit connections more generally. Findings underline the importance of drawing on a variety of evidence in assessing young children's understandings of electric circuits. They indicate that young children may offer views about electric circuits not unlike those of older children and adults with similar experience. Finally, there was some suggestion that the interview procedure may have acted as an instructive stimulus in helping children to become more conscious of their own views and reflect on their thinking in the light of further evidence. © 2009 Taylor & Francis.

Type: Article
Title: How young children understand electric circuits: Prediction, explanation and exploration
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/09500690802101950
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
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Learning and Leadership
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1502790
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