27 SES 09 A, Learning in Natural and Social Sciences
Democratic citizenship and ability to function in the contemporary market economy are key goals of the school education in general. These goals play prominent role in the curriculum of the Czech primary and lower secondary school (Rámcový vzdělávací program pro základní vzdělávání – Curricular Framework for Basic Schooling). At the primary school level, the economic topics have been part of the school subject traditionally called “partiotic studies” (vlastivěda), recently officially renamed to “man and his world” (člověk a jeho svět).
Many recent theories of instruction suppose that key determinant of the learning process in school are the children’s prior knowledge and conceptualisations of topics being taught, in our case children’s knowledge and understandings of social phenomena (Bertrand, 1998; Bransford, 2000; Shulman, 1987). The knowledge of children’s preconceptions and naive theories is believed to be a key part of so called pedagogic content knowledge of expert teachers (Janík, 2005). The importance of children’s understandings for the process of education has led to extensive research on children’s preconceptions, misconceptions or naive theories in recent years.
The dominant theoretical perspective in this area is conceptual change theory (Vosniadou, 2008, di Sessa, 2008). The main feature of this theory is the belief that children’s learning processes are domain specific. The individual authors differ in their opinion about the structure of the domain understanding. “Classical” theory of conceptual change states that children’s knowledge has the form of a coherent theory that strongly influences the subsequent learning in the domain (Vosniadou, 2007). More recent approaches suggest that the children’s knowledge of a particular domain resembles an ecosystem of loosely coupled elements. In this ecosystem, the contradictory explanations or beliefs can co-exist. Conceptual change in this cognitive ecosystem is a more permanent, evolutionary process (di Sessa, 2008).
Most of the research on naive conceptions and concept change, however, covers only the (natural) sciences – mainly physics (mechanics, electricity), astronomy, biology, or chemistry (Vosniadou, 2007; Škoda & Doulík, 2010). The research on children’s knowledge of social phenomena has scarce. (Berti, Andriolo, 2001; Brophy, 2006; Barrett, Buchanan-Barrow, 2004). Moreover, it is supposed that economic and social contexts strongly affect the children’s understandings in many ways. Almost all available studies on children knowledge of society have been completed within the context of the different political systems and/or in the countries with longer history of democratic capitalism.
The main goal of the research project is qualitatively describe the content and structure of the prior understanding of market economy (earning money - employment, entrepreneurship, trading goods and services - aims of participants of trading, determinants of market prices, role of banks) of Czech children entering and leaving the second phase of primary school (i. e. approx. 9 and 11 years old). In this age, in the 4th and 5th grade, pupils encounter first more systematic instruction in the area of social studies.
What economic knowledge do Czech children already possess when they start learning systematically about society? What is the structure of this knowledge?
What are the qualitative differences in economic knowledge of Czech primary pupils with different socioeconomic background (e. g. from the families of employees vs. families of entrepreneurs, from urban vs. rural schools)?
How similar or different are the Czech children’s economic understandings when compared with published results studying similar topics in the countries with longer tradition of democratic capitalism?
Barrett, M., & Buchanan-Barrow, E. (2004). Emergent themes in the study of children´s understanding of society. In M. Barrett, & E. Buchanan-Barrow, Children's Understanding of Society (s. 1-15). Hove: Psychology Press. Bastounis, M.,Leiser, D., Roland-Lévy, Ch. (2004). Psychosocial variables involved in the construction of lay thinking about the economy: Results of a cross-national survey. Journal of Economic Psychology, 25. 263–278. Berti, A. E., Andriolo, A. (2001). Third Graders’ Understanding of Core . Political Concepts (Law, Nation-State, Government) Before and After Teaching. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs 127 č.4, s. 346–377. http://www.psicologia.unipd.it/home/fso/file/Berti_Andriolo.pdf Bertrand, Y. (1998). Soudobé teorie vzdělávání. Praha: Portál. Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R., eds. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Brophy, J., Alleman, J. (2002). Primary grade students: Knowledge and Thinking about Government as a Cultural Universal. Chicago: Spencer Foundation. Brophy, J., Alleman J. (2006) Children's thinking about cultural universals. L. Erlbaum Associates. di Sessa, A. A. (2008). A bird´s-eye view of the „Pieces“ vs „Coherence“ controversy. In S. Vosniadou, International handbook of research on conceptual change (s. 35-60). New York and London: Routledge,. Dvořáková, M. (2009). Poznávání prekonceptů politologických pojmů jako součást rozvoje didaktické znalosti obsahu u studentů učitelství. In: Janík, T. et al. Možnosti rozvíjení didaktických znalostí obsahu u budoucích učitelů s. 129-137. Brno: Paido. Dvořáková, M. (2013). Diagnostikování dětských pojetí společnosti studenty učitelství. Orbis Scholae, 7 (1), 101-117. Janík, T. (2005) Znalost jako klíčová kategorie učitelského vzdělávání. Brno : Paido. Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A.M. (1994). Qualitative Data Analysis. Thousand Oaks: Sage. Shulman, L. S. (1987). Knowledge and Teaching: Foundations of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57, 1-22. Škoda, J.; Doulík, P. et al. (2010). Prekoncepce a miskoncepce v oborových didaktikách. Acta universitatis Purkynianae 160. Ústí nad Labem: Univerzita J. E. Purkyně v Ústí nad Labem. Vosniadou, S. (2007). Conceptual change and education. Human Development, č. 50, p. 47-54. Vosniadou, S. (2008). International handbook of research on conceptual change. New York and London: Routledge.
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