Putting rational constraints on divergent thought : the development of scientific reasoning

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Schmidt, Martina
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Education
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education, 1999
The purpose of this study was to investigate how students in Grade Five and Six generate explanation for scientific phenomena and how they evaluate the quality of these explanations. In part, this was done by analyzing the in-class explanations that the students gave in response to questions stemming from two topics in the 1996 Alberta program of studies for Grade Five Science. In addition, the students shared their own perceptions of the sources of their questions and ideas and the methods by which they evaluated them. Analysis of in-class discussions and activities occurred on an ongoing basis between January and June 1998. In addition, five students who vary in their ability to generate and evaluate scientific ideas were selected for more in-depth interviewing outside of class time. These students were interviewed once during each of the main units of study. Their interviews focused on the manner in which their thoughts and ideas had progressed during previous class discusiions and activities, how they evaluated these ideas, the manner in which they were able to generate new ideas, and their continued evaluation of these ideas. This involved reflection stimulate by requests to summarize their findings as well as on-the-spot reflection as the students continued to evaluate and develop their ideas. Attention was paid to possible effects that the metacognitive activity encouraged during class discussions and during the interviews may have had on methods that the students used to construct meaning. Each of the students who participated in individual interviews pertaining to specific content areas also participated in a narrative interview that focused on their general interests and habits. The individual interviews and class discussions were fully transcribed, analyzed and compared to generate broad themes which were then able to guide further analysis of student work.
xiii, 539 leaves ; 29 cm.
Reasoning , Science -- Philosophy , Science -- Study and teaching (Elementary) -- Alberta , Dissertations, Academic