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What is science in preschool and what do teachers have to know to empower children?
University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Electronics, Mathematics and Natural Sciences. Centre for Gender Research, Uppsala University. (Temagruppen "Genusperspektiv i skola och högre utbildning")
University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Electronics, Mathematics and Natural Sciences. Centre for Gender Research, Uppsala University.
2014 (English)In: Cultural Studies of Science Education, ISSN 1871-1502, E-ISSN 1871-1510, Vol. 9, no 2, 275-296 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this article we problematize the purpose of teaching science in preschool and what competences preschool teachers need in order to conduct science activities in the classroom. The empirical data were collected through an action research project with five preschool and primary school teachers (K-6). In the first section we have used one situation, a floating-sinking experiment, as an illustration of how two different epistemological perspectives generate different foci on which kind of science teaching competences that are fruitful in preschool. In the first perspective, the central goal of science teaching is the development of the children’s conceptual understanding. With this perspective, we found that the science activities with the children were unsuccessful, because the children’s thoughts about concepts did not develop but even the situation enhanced a misconception concerning density. Moreover, the teacher was unsuccessful in supporting the children’s conceptual learning. The second perspective uses a feminist approach that scrutinizes science, where we investigate if the floating-sinking activity contributes to a feeling of participation in a scientific context for the children and if so how the teacher promotes this inclusion. This second perspective showed that the children’s scientific proficiency benefited from the situation; they had acquired a positive experience of the density concept that they could build upon which was reinforced by the teacher. The children discovered that they had power over their own learning by using an experimental approach. On the basis of these findings, we conclude that there are competences other than subject matter knowledge that are also important when preschool teachers engage children in scientific activities. Through process-oriented work with the teacher group, we identified four concrete skills: paying attention to and using children’s previous experiences; capturing unexpected things that happen at the moment they occur; asking questions that challenge the children and that stimulate further investigation; situated presence, that is, “remaining” in the situation and listening to the children and their explanations. We discuss possible ways to move preschool teachers away from their feelings of inadequacy and poor self-confidence in teaching science by reinforcing this kind of pedagogical content knowledge.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 9, no 2, 275-296 p.
Keyword [en]
Empowerment, feminist perspective, pedagogical content knowledge, pre-school, science education
National Category
Didactics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-9876DOI: 10.1007/s11422-012-9439-6Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84902795777OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-9876DiVA: diva2:436270
Available from: 2011-08-22 Created: 2011-08-22 Last updated: 2014-12-10Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Lärare för förändring: att synliggöra och utmana föreställningar om naturvetenskap och genus
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Lärare för förändring: att synliggöra och utmana föreställningar om naturvetenskap och genus
2011 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [sv]

Lärares genusmedvetenhet i relation till naturvetenskaplig verksamhet är fokus för denna avhandling, som belyses genom två studier: en longitudinell aktionsforskningsstudie som genomfördes tillsammans med en grupp förskollärare/lärare och en studie där verksamma förskollärare/lärare under en fortbildningskurs fick tillämpa en genusteori på en verklig klassrumshändelse.

 

Studierna visar att genusarbete är komplicerat eftersom det inbegriper många aspekter av livet och en viktig del av genusmedvetenheten är att förhålla sig till dessa olika aspekter. Det är av avgörande betydelse att utmana föreställningar om genus, där utmaningarna resulterar i att föreställningarna blir verbaliserade och därmed synliggjorda. Vidare visar studierna att genom att ta avstamp i feministisk vetenskapskritik och pedagogik kan ett alternativt sätt att förhålla sig till lärande och undervisning i naturvetenskap bli möjligt. För lärare som inte har en naturvetenskaplig bakgrund, men som ska genomföra aktiviteter eller undervisa i ämnena, blir de didaktiska och pedagogiska kompetenser de redan besitter en startpunkt för att utveckla sina ämnesdidaktiska förmågor. Kompetensutveckling med ett feministiskt anslag kan ge lärarna ”empowerment” som medför att de känner större delaktighet i den naturvetenskapliga praktiken och därmed kan bidra till att utveckla såväl dess kultur som kunskapsstoffet.

 

Avhandlingen ger också nya metodologiska kunskapsbidrag om aktionsforskning. Ett resultat är att tid är en viktig faktor som man måste ta hänsyn till beroende på vilken förändring man vill åstadkomma. Forskaren som deltar i aktionsforskningen som en ”outsider” har en viktig funktion genom att kunna överblicka processen samt uppmärksamma och använda sig av kritiska händelser för att driva förändringsarbetet framåt.             

 

Abstract [en]

The main focus in this thesis is teachers’ gender awareness related to scientific practice. The thesis is based on two different empirical studies: a longitudinal action research study together with a group of teachers (K-6) and a study during an in-service development course where experienced teachers applied gender theory on a real classroom situation, a case. 

 

The studies show that working with gender is complicated and comprises of many aspects of human life. An important part of gender awareness is to be able to relate to these aspects. A question of vital importance is to challenge conceptions of gender in such a way that the conceptions will be verbalized and thereby visualized. Moreover, the studies show that feminist pedagogy and theory of science can lead to a new approach to teaching and learning in science. For teachers without any background in science, there are other competences than just subject matter knowledge that are vital for teaching. Feminist perspectives in professional development reinforce teachers’ pedagogical competences and their pedagogical content knowledge and thereby make these teachers feel they participate in the scientific practice and contribute in developing both the stuff of knowledge and its culture.

 

The thesis also contributes to new methodological knowledge about action research. One of the results is that time is an important factor to take into consideration depending on what kind of change you want to receive. The researcher engaged in action research as an "outsider" has an important function in order to monitor the process and pay attention and use critical events to drive the change process forward.        

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Norrköping: Linköpings universitet, 2011. 80 p.
Series
Studies in Science and Technology Education, ISSN 1652-5051 ; 36
Keyword
Action research, feminist critique, gender, gender awareness, pre-school teachers, primary school teachers, science education, Aktionsforskning, feministisk kritik, förskollärare, genus, genusmedvetenhet, naturvetenskapernas didaktik, tidigarelärare
National Category
Didactics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-9880 (URN)978-91-7393-222-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-04-08, Sal 99:132, Högskolan i Gävle, 10:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2011-09-09 Created: 2011-08-22 Last updated: 2012-01-15Bibliographically approved

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