The Journal of Emergent Science - whyhh & howoo ?w - Association for Science Education

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The Journal of Emergent Science - whyhh & howoo ?w - Association for Science Education
The Journal of
Emergent Science
Issue 15 Summer 2018

                        h &
                       PRIMARY SCIENCE
                       TEACHING TRUST
The Journal of Emergent Science - whyhh & howoo ?w - Association for Science Education
Issue 15 Summer 2018

Editorial Contributions                                                                Editors:
                                                                                       Amanda McCrory
3.    Editorial                                                                        Suzanne Gatt
                                                                                       Executive Editor:
                                                                                       Jane Hanrott
2017 ESERA Conference special issue
                                                                                       Cover Photo Courtesy of:
4.    Guest editorial. Coral Campbell
                                                                                       (see article on page 13)
6.    Systemising and empathising in early years science – a video­based study with
      pre­school children. Nina Skorsetz and Manuela Welzel­Breuer                     Publisher:
                                                                                       Association for Science
13.   Pre­school children’s collaborative science learning scaffolded by tablets –      Education (ASE) College Lane,
      a teacher’s view. Marie Fridberg, Susanne Thulin and Andreas Redfors             Hatfield, Herts, AL10 9AA, UK
20. Potential for multi­dimensional teaching for ‘emergent scientific literacy’ in      ©ASE 2018
    pre­school practice. Sofie Areljung and Bodil Sundberg                              ISSN: 2046­4754

28. Reflections on guidance to orientate untrained practitioners towards authentic
    science for children in the early years. Linda McGuigan and Terry Russell          The Journal of Emergent
                                                                                       Science (JES) is published
37.   Teaching science in Australian bush kindergartens – understanding what
                                                                                       by ASE in partnership with
      teachers need. Coral Campbell and Christopher Speldewinde
                                                                                       the Primary Science Teaching
                                                                                       Trust (PSTT).
                                                                                       It is free to access for all.

Primary Science Teaching Trust (PSTT)
46. Reflections on and analysis of the use of drama techniques and dialogic practices
    in teaching science in a primary school. Clarysly Deller
57.   Teachers’ attempts to improve assessment practice in primary science are
      influenced by job role and teaching experience. Isabel Hopwood­Stephens
67.   News from the Primary Science Teaching Trust (PSTT)

Regular features
68. Guidelines for authors

                                                                                              h &
70.   About ASE

                                                                                               PRIMARY SCIENCE
                                                                                               TEACHING TRUST
The Journal of Emergent Science - whyhh & howoo ?w - Association for Science Education
l   Amanda McCrory     l   Suzanne Gatt

For this Special Issue of JES, we are very fortunate     primary classroom. The first, written by Clarysly
to have Dr. Coral Campbell from Deakin University        Deller, reflects on how drama techniques and
in Geelong, Australia as a guest editor, who             dialogic practices can be used to effectively teach
explains – further on in her own Editorial – the         aspects of primary science. The second, by Isabel
importance of the focus of this issue – the 2017         Hopwood­Stephens, grapples with the tensions
ESERA Conference. Coral has been involved in             that classroom practitioners face when attempting
industry, school and tertiary education for many         to improve assessment practice in primary science.
years, and her research interests lie in practitioner    Both articles make for thought­provoking reading!
learning and students’ understanding in science
and STEM, in all areas of the schooling sector. Her      We very much hope that you enjoy the varied and
more recent research has focused on early                engaging articles presented in this issue of JES.
childhood STEM.

We would like to thank ESERA for their kind
permission to publish the extended abstracts of
some of the 2017 Conference contributions in this
edition. In particular, we are very grateful to
Professor Costas Constantinou, President of              Amanda McCrory, Institute of Education,
ESERA, for his support. We will publish a second         University College of London
collection in issue 16.                                  E­mail:
                                                         Suzanne Gatt, Faculty of Education,
In addition, this issue includes two articles from the   University of Malta
Primary Science Teaching Trust (PSTT), both of           E­mail:
which give interesting insights into science in the      Co­Editors of the Journal of Emergent Science

Editorial                                                            JES14 Winter 2017/18 page 3
The Journal of Emergent Science - whyhh & howoo ?w - Association for Science Education
Guest Editorial
l   Coral Campbell

Welcome to this edition of the Journal of Emergent      In this edition of JES, we have included the
Science (JES), which highlights some very interesting   extended abstracts from some of the presentations
research through some short papers presented at the     delivered in Dublin. Obviously, we could not publish
2017 European Science Education Research                everything, but feel that these offer a ‘taster’ of the
Association (ESERA) Conference in Dublin, Ireland.      international research happening across the globe.
                                                        It is intended to include some more of these
Firstly, let me explain that the two JES Editors have   abstracts in issue 16 of JES, later in the year. Also,
asked me to write this Editorial, as I was the person    if you would like further examples, please refer to
who approached them about this special edition.         the ESERA website (https://keynote.conference­
This was as a consequence of my role as ESERA 
Early Childhood (EC) Science Special Interest Group
                                                        Contributors to this edition include:
(SIG) Co­ordinator, a role shared with Estelle
Blanquet. At the ESERA Conference in 2017, the          p Reflections on guidance to orientate untrained
SIG discussed ways to improve the visibility and          practitioners towards authentic science for
impact of early childhood science. Jane Johnston          children in the early years – Linda Mcguigan and
and Lady Sue Dale Tunnicliffe were the original            Terry Russell.
Editors of JES as well as the first ESERA EC Science     p Potential for multi­dimensional teaching for
SIG co­ordinators, so it seemed fitting that ESERA         ‘emergent scientific literacy’ in pre­school
and JES were associated again through this edition.       practice – Sofie Areljung and Bodil Sundberg.
                                                        p Pre­school children’s collaborative science
At the recent Conference in Ireland, there was a
                                                          learning scaffolded by tablets – a teacher’s view –
significant increase in the number and type of
                                                          Marie Fridberg, Susanne Thulin and Andreas
papers submitted around topics of research into
early years science education. For example, when
the SIG started (2009), there were approximately        p Teaching science in Australian bush
15 people who submitted papers in two sessions. In        kindergartens – understanding what teachers
2011, in Lyon, there were three sessions and 19           need – Coral Campbell and Christopher
papers presented, as well as quite a few poster           Speldewinde.
presentations, each with a standard synopsis paper      p Systemising and empathising in early years
of the research. In 2017, the number of papers            science – a video­based study with pre­school
presented through six paper presentation sessions,        children – Nina Skorsetz and Manuela
two symposium sessions and one poster session,            Welzel­Breuer.
had increased to 35.
                                                        I attended as many sessions as I could, and enjoyed
                                                        the variety of research being undertaken and the
The indications, from the increasing number of
                                                        robust discussions afterwards. Interestingly,
submissions to the conferences, imply that early
                                                        I attended the European Early Childhood Education
childhood science education is receiving more
                                                        Research Conference a short time after ESERA and
notice in the science education research
                                                        found yet more early childhood science papers
community and is attracting more researchers
                                                        presented there. There were significantly fewer of
looking at the depth and breadth of science
                                                        them, but still of excellent quality and, of course,
education provision in early childhood.
                                                        discussion was engaging.

Guest Editorial                                                        JES15 Summer 2018 page 4
The Journal of Emergent Science - whyhh & howoo ?w - Association for Science Education
I invite you to sit back, read and enjoy the content
of this edition of JES. If a particular article intrigues
you, please follow it up with the author – it is likely
that further research has been published in the last
few months.

Coral Campbell
Dr. Coral Campbell is an Associate Professor in
science education at Deakin University in Victoria,
Australia. Her research interests include early
childhood and primary science/STEM education.

Guest Editorial                                             JES15 Summer 2018 page 5
The Journal of Emergent Science - whyhh & howoo ?w - Association for Science Education
Systemising and empathising in
early years science – a video-based
study with pre-school children
l   Nina Skorsetz   l   Manuela Welzel­Breuer

                                                          research approach (Collective, 2003), the tested
 This paper has also appeared in: Finlayson, O.,          children were video­observed while participating
 McLoughlin, E., Erduran, S. & Childs, P. (Eds.)          in the two different scientific learning environments,
 (2018) Electronic Proceedings of the ESERA 2017          in spring 2015 and 2016.
 Conference. Research, Practice and
 Collaboration in Science Education. Dublin,              Results seem to show that children with a high
 Ireland: Dublin City University.                         SQ­value, as reported in literature, tend to be more
 ISBN 978­1­873769­84­3.                                  motivated to do science than children with a high
 Reproduced here with permission from ESERA.              EQ­value. Children with a high SQ­value were
                                                          motivated in both learning environments, which
                                                          could lead to the interpretation that these children
Abstract                                                  are motivated to do science independent from the
Children are very different in their motivation to do      pedagogical arrangement of the learning
science. An approach used to explain these                environment. For children with a high EQ­value,
differences in the motivation for science could be         no such correlations for their motivation to do
through the Empathizing­Systemizing (E­S)­Theory          science were found. They seem to be less motivated
(Baron­Cohen, 2009). This theory states that every        in both learning environments than children with
person’s brain has two dimensions: the systemising        high SQ­value. More research is needed.
and the empathising. Both dimensions can be
measured with a questionnaire and represented in an       Keywords: Early years science, video­based
EQ­ and a SQ­value.                                       research, design­based research

People with a high SQ­value are called ‘systemisers’      Introduction
and tend to search for systems behind things;             Starting point: Diversity
‘empathisers’ orientate themselves to other people’s      Children in kindergarten are often very motivated
feelings. Systemisers are generally more engaged in       to do science, but this motivation varies from child
science and more motivated to do science than             to child and fades away with age (Patrick &
people with a high EQ­value, who are stronger in          Mantzicopoulos, 2015). One usual explanation for
empathising (Zeyer et al, 2013).                          the different motivation to do science is the gender
                                                          difference between boys and girls. A slightly
The main goal of this study is to find out if pre­school   different approach for explaining differences in the
children with various EQ­ and SQ­values act               motivation for science is the Empathizing­
differently in different scientific learning                 Systemizing (E­S)­Theory by Baron­Cohen (2002).
environments. Children were observed during two           The basis of his theory is that every human brain
pedagogically differently arranged learning                has two dimensions. On the one hand, there is the
environments, to investigate potential different           ‘empathising’ dimension, which is defined by the
behaviour. In this study, the brain types with respect    drive to ‘identify another‘s mental states and to
to the EQ­ and SQ­values of 4 to 6 year­old pre­          respond to these with an appropriate emotion, in
school children were determined with a 55­item EQ­        order to predict and to respond to the behaviour of
SQ questionnaire (Auyeung et al, 2009), which was         another person’ (Baron­Cohen et al, 2005). On the
translated into German. In terms of a design­based        other hand, there is the ‘systemising’ dimension,

Main Article                                                             JES15 Summer 2018 page 6
The Journal of Emergent Science - whyhh & howoo ?w - Association for Science Education
which is defined as ‘the drive to analyze or construct    ‘Motivation’ is here being considered to be
systems’ (Baron­Cohen, 2009, p.71). With                 motivation to learn something, or the desire to
questionnaires, the measure of the peculiarity of        gather knowledge (Artelt, 2005). Motivation can be
both dimensions – called EQ and SQ – can be              seen as ‘time on task’ (Artelt, 2005, p.233) spent
determined (Billington et al, 2007).                     focusing on the subject. If somebody is motivated
                                                         to learn something, s/he will probably spend more
People with a high SQ­value, called ’systemisers’,       time on it.
are generally more engaged in science than people
who are stronger in empathising (Zeyer et al, 2013,      There are several constructs concerning
p.1047). In Baron­Cohen’s studies, it seems that the     motivation. Following Glynn & Koballa (2006),
two dimensions are independent from each other.          these are, for instance, intrinsic/extrinsic
Baron­Cohen and his colleagues calculated the            motivation, goal orientation, self­confidence, self­
difference between the EQ­ and SQ­value and               determination and anxiety (Glynn & Koballa, 2006).
statistically identified five so­called brain types:       Thus, the challenge is to observe different aspects
Extreme Empathisers; Empathisers; Balanced;              of motivation, knowing that ‘motivation cannot be
Systemisers; and Extreme Systemisers. Further            observed directly’ (Barth, 2010). Different types of
studies showed that the two dimensions do not            instruments measure the amount of motivation,
depend on each other and the concept of brain            such as the Leuven’s scale of
types was sometimes misleading, because a person         involvement/engagement (Laevers, 2007). Within
can have a balanced brain type, with either two          this measure, Laevers specified different signs of
similarly high EQ­ and SQ­values or two similar          motivation: bodily posture, attentiveness,
minor values (Svedholm­Häkkinen & Lindeman,              endurance, accuracy, responsiveness and
2015, p.366).                                            contentment. If we assume that someone is
                                                         motivated when s/he follows attentively in a
Zeyer et al (2013) showed that only the SQ­value         situation, we can observe the different focus of
has an impact on the motivation to do science. So        attention that the children choose in the scientific
far, the relation between the SQ­value and               learning situations, and their duration.
motivation for science has not been tested with
young children, only with high school students.
However, the EQ­ and SQ­values can be measured           Early years science in German kindergartens
for 4­11 year­old children using a combined 55­item      In German kindergartens it is common practice to
EQ­SQ Child Questionnaire, which was validated in        use two different approaches to do science. The
a large study with over 1500 participants (Auyeung       main difference between these two approaches is
et al, 2009). In this case, the parents filled out the    in the degree of structuring of the didactical and
questionnaire for their children.                        methodic arrangements used. An aspect that both
                                                         ways have in common is that the learning
In this current study, the goal is to find out whether    environment often starts with the exploration of
there are differences in motivation between               a natural phenomenon.
systemisers and empathisers when attending
scientific learning environments at kindergarten          The first applied approach is ‘rather structured’,
(Skorsetz & Welzel, 2015). Maybe children with           because the idea is that the child co­constructs new
different brain types need different forms of access       knowledge with others: for example, in a
to science (Zeyer et al, 2013, p.1047)?                  structured experiment an instruction is followed by
                                                         an interpretation and guided by questions and
                                                         interventions of the teacher (Lück, 2009). In this
What is motivation?                                      way, the learning environment is led and structured
Before we can find out how motivated pre­school           by the pre­school teacher. The pre­school teacher
children are when participating in scientific learning    and the children are often sitting around a table.
environments, we have to first define the term             The materials to be used are displayed by the
‘motivation’. A useful definition is: ‘Motivation is an   teacher on a dark pad and labelled by both teacher
internal condition that elicits, leads and maintains     and children. A manual is used, which is followed
the children’s behaviour’ (Glynn & Koballa, 2006).       using a step­by­step procedure.

Main Article                                                           JES15 Summer 2018 page 7
The Journal of Emergent Science - whyhh & howoo ?w - Association for Science Education
The experimentation phase is followed by an             p RQ1: To what extent do pre­school children show
interpretation phase, where the children try              empathising or systemising characteristics?
to find an explanation for the phenomenon.
                                                        At first, all tested children in the first year of the
For the other approach, the idea is that the            project and of both brain types participated in a
child makes holistic (nature) experiences together      more structured setting. In the following year,
with others, in a playful way and in a                  other tested children (the ‘next generation’), again
communicative setting. Hence, s/he has the              of both brain types, participated in the more
possibility to identify him/herself with somebody       exploratory learning environment. So, our research
else, or with a situation in a social setting, for      question is specified for the two settings:
example through a fictional framing story (Schäfer,
2008, 2015). The children and the teacher are often     p RQ2: To what extent is the influence of brain type
sitting on the floor in a circle and the materials are     or of the EQ­ and SQ­value reflected in
displayed. A framing story is ‘told’ by a puppet, for     differences in children‘s actions in a ‘rather
example, and the story ends with a problem                structured’ (RQ 2.1), or a ‘rather open’ (RQ 2.2),
encountered by the puppet, which has to be solved         learning environment based on the behaviour
by the children. After the story, the children have       chosen for measurement and its duration?
time to explore the materials or the phenomenon
and solve the problem in their own way, in order to
‘help’ the puppet.
                                                        In order to answer the research questions, our
Research questions                                      study was organised in three steps:
The main goal of this study is to find out how pre­
school children with different EQ­/SQ­values act         p (1): implementation of the EQ­SQ Child
and react in different didactical and methodical           Questionnaire (developed by Auyeung et al,
learning environments, on the same scientific              2009);
topic. In other words, we are observing children        p (2): implementation of the more structured
in the two different learning environments in order        learning setting, and of the rather exploratory
to investigate potential different behaviour.              type of learning environment; and
                                                        p (3): analysis of correlations between the brain
Our hypotheses in this context are:                       type of the children and their actions in the
                                                          different learning settings.
p H1: Systemisers could be more motivated
  to do science in more structured learning
                                                        (1): At first we had to translate and validate the
  environments because of their higher SQ­value,
                                                        EQ­SQ Child Questionnaire (Auyeung et al, 2009)
  which leads them to search for systems.
                                                        in order to determine the EQ­ and SQ­values of
p H2: According to Zeyer et al (2013), we assume        every child in a communicative validation process
  that fictional stories and the possible                (Lamnek et al, 2010). The questionnaire was given
  identification with protagonists should                to the children’s parents because of the young
  especially motivate empathisers to do science.        age of the children participating in the study.
  An additional idea is that learning environments      The tested children were 5­6 years old and were in
  that include time to explore the materials could      the last year of kindergarten before entering
  be motivating for empathisers.                        primary school.

Based on these hypotheses, we developed the             (2): In order to measure different actions
following research questions in order to find            concerning the children’s motivation and to
differences between the children in two contrasting      investigate if these were independent of the
learning environments. First, we have to find out        didactical and methodological arrangement of the
whether different EQ­ and SQ­values can be found         learning environment, a two­step procedure was
among pre­school children:                              followed, where children participated in one of the

Main Article                                                          JES15 Summer 2018 page 8
The Journal of Emergent Science - whyhh & howoo ?w - Association for Science Education
two contrasting scientific learning environments.        This result is in accordance with the literature
Both learning environments were based on the            (Auyeung et al, 2009). Thus, we can conclude that
same scientific phenomenon: ‘absorbency                  the translated questionnaire was valid and reliable.
properties of different materials’ (Krahn, 2005).        Overall, 112 children were tested by the
The learning environments were theory­based and         questionnaire during data collection in the spring of
evaluated using the Design Based Research               2015 and spring 2016.
approach (DBR Collective, 2007).
                                                        Development, implementation and analysis
One of the mixed groups of tested children              of the learning environment
participated in the ‘rather structured’ approach; the   Both learning environments were based on the
other group participated in the ‘rather open’           scientific phenomenon of absorbency. We expected
approach. The children’s behaviour (n=50) was           the children to recognise this phenomenon from
observed (video­recorded) carefully. The same           situations experienced at home and in kindergarten
procedure was performed with the ‘rather open’          and involving the spilling of fluids.
approach in the following year. The videotapes
formed the basis for the empirical analysis, using      For the study, children with brain type/EQ­ and
inductively developed observational categories          SQ­value participated in the learning environment
focusing on what the children were looking at           in groups of four. All activities were video­recorded
(Mayring, 2008).                                        using two video cameras filming the sequences
                                                        from different angles. During the summers of 2015
(3): The third and last step was to calculate
                                                        and 2016, 99 pre­school children, aged 5­6, from
statistically the correlation between the compiled
                                                        seven different kindergartens in the area of
EQ­ response and SQ­values with the data from the
                                                        Heidelberg, Germany, were filmed.
video analysis, in order to find the expected
significant differences between the two groups of
children (Bortz & Döring, 2006).                        The data collection of the ‘rather structured’
                                                        learning environment took place in spring/summer
                                                        2015 in 15 settings with 52 children. The data
Results                                                 collection of the ‘rather exploratory’ learning
The EQ­SQ Questionnaire                                 environment comprised of 14 settings with
The analysis of the questionnaire was carried out       47 children, which was implemented in
with the participation of different researchers from     spring/summer 2016. Hence, the total number of
different faculties in order to achieve                  video material added up to about 10 hours.
communicative validation (Lamnek et al, 2010).
About 17 scientists, who usually meet regularly         The two videotapes of each setting were inputted
during a seminar, participated in this two­step         in the evaluation software programme Videograph
procedure. For the pre­test, the first version of the    (Rimmele, 2012) and synchronised. Inductively,
questionnaire in German was trialled with a mother      we developed eight observation categories with
and her child in that age group. From this, we          the focus on the children’s viewing directions.
obtained answers to the questions, as well as           These included children looking:
comments about the clarity of the questions. After
another communicative validation process with the       p Towards the pre­school teacher
above research group, based on the mother’s             p Towards other children
comments, the second and improved version of the        p At the experimentation material
questionnaire was finalised. The pilot study
                                                        p Towards the observer/into the camera
followed, with the questionnaire administered to
25 parents of pre­school children. The internal         p Around
consistency of the results was tested statistically.    p At material not relevant to the immediate
Cronbach’s alpha coefficients were calculated and           situation
showed acceptable coefficients for empathy items          p Indistinguishable
(α=0.81), as well as for systemising items (α=0.61).    p At anything else

Main Article                                                          JES15 Summer 2018 page 9
The Journal of Emergent Science - whyhh & howoo ?w - Association for Science Education
Variable            2        3        4           5             6            7            8            9       10

  1 Difference     − .69** – .38**      − .03       – .16          .16        −.01          –.10         −.18     –.14
  2 EQ                    −.32**        .12        −.22          −.11        –.09          –.06         −.09     −.08
  3 SQ                                 −.21         .04          .00         −.07          −.02         –.31*   –.28*

  Notes: Difference = Difference EQ/SQ = Brain Type, EQ = relative EQ­value (2); SQ = relative
  SQ­value (3), Teacher = View towards Preschool Teacher (4), Children = View towards other
  Children (5), Exp.mat. = View towards the Experimentation Material (6), Cam. = View toward
  the Observer/into the Camera (7), Around = View around (8), Mat. n. r. = View t. Material that is
  not relevant right now (9), Distraction (10)
  * p < .05, ** p < .01. (one­tailed)

Table 1: Correlations (‘rather structured’ learning environment).

Next, we converged categories 4, 5 and 6 into a            followed with the ‘rather exploratory’ learning
new category, ‘Distraction/ Attentiveness’. The            environment. In contrast to the first setting, the
6th category involved material that the children           coding of the viewing directions of the children
stored in their pockets, or experimentation                started just after the end of the presentation of
material that had been used before but was no              the framing story.
longer relevant. The 8th category was not used.
A manual was produced.
The videotapes of both learning environments               In order to answer the second research question,
were then analysed in detail according to the              the EQ­ and SQ­values of each child were
manual. All videos were analysed by two coders.            correlated using the video­analysed data. Table 1
In the ‘rather structured’ learning environment,           shows the results of the correlations of the data
the children’s viewing directions were gathered for        from the ‘rather structured’ learning environment
the whole setting. With the software programme             and the children’s EQ­ and SQ­value. Two
Videograph, the duration was measured as a                 significant values were identified in this one­tailed
percentage independent from the duration of the            Spearman correlation: r=–.31* (negative
setting. Different codes were identified and                 correlation between SQ and ‘View to material that
discussed in the communicative validation process          is not relevant right now’, row 3, column 9) and
(Lamnek et al, 2010). The same procedure was               r=–.28* (negative correlation between SQ and

  Variable            2       3        4        5            6           7           8            9       10     11

  1 Difference      −.68**   .56**     −.02     .04          .02         −.03         .01        .34**    –.14   −.02
  2 EQ                       .20      –.05     .17          .11         –.02        –.14        .28*     −.08   –.14
  3 SQ                                .04      .20          .11         −.01        −.12        –.23      .13   −.16

  Notes: Difference = Difference EQ/SQ = Brain Type, EQ = relative EQ­value (2); SQ = relative
  SQ­value (3), Teacher = View towards Preschool Teacher (4), Children = View towards other
  Children (5), Exp.mat. = View towards the Experimentation Material (6), Cam. = View toward
  the Observer/into the Camera (7), Around = View around (8), Mat. n. r. = View t. Material that
  is not relevant right now (9), Puppet = View towards Hand­puppet (10), Distraction (11)

Table 2: Correlations (‘rather open’ learning environment).

Main Article                                                                 JES15 Summer 2018 page 10
‘Distraction’, row 3, column 10). This means that           Discussion and conclusions
children with a higher SQ­value tend to be more             The first conclusion that we drew from the results
focused on the scientific related aspects.                   was that children with a high SQ­value seem to be
                                                            motivated in both learning environments.
In Table 2, the results of the correlation in the ‘rather   So, children with a high SQ­value seem to be
exploratory’ learning environment with the                  motivated to do science independent of the
children’s EQ­ and SQ­values are displayed. Our             learning environment and the pedagogical
study has relevant correlation with a significant            approach used. This result matches our first
value (r=.28*, row 2, column 9) between the EQ­             hypothesis with respect to children with a high
value and the ‘view towards material that is not            SQ­value being motivated to do science in
relevant right now’.                                        structured learning environments. The results go
                                                            beyond this hypothesis, because the children
 This means that children with a higher EQ­value            always seem to be motivated to do science
tend to focus on non­relevant aspects, so they seem         whatever the learning environment.
to be more distracted than children with a higher           However, the second hypothesis can neither be
SQ­value. Another significant value is r=–.34**              confirmed nor refuted, because we found no hint
(variable difference, row 1, column 9) between the           that children with a high EQ­value seem to be
children’s brain type and the ‘view towards material        motivated to do science in the different learning
that is not relevant right now’. This result could be       environments. Maybe these children prefer to
interpreted as children with a higher SQ­value (in          focus on the non­relevant material to contribute
the difference accumulated) focusing less on                 to the learning environment.
distracting material. This could also be interpreted
as meaning that, again, children with a high SQ­            Therefore, the significant correlations lead to
value are more motivated to do science.                     the following hypotheses, which need to be
                                                            investigated further:
                                                            p Children with high SQ­values tend to be
Looking critically at the data, we have to take into
                                                              motivated to do science independent from
account specific limitations. Firstly, the parents
                                                              the learning environment; and
filled in the EQ/SQ Child Questionnaire and
evaluated their own children. Some of their                 p The ‘rather open’ learning environment
answers could be socially desirable.                          motivates children with high EQ­values due
                                                              to the possibility of choosing additional
Secondly, characteristics (perhaps relevant) other            material for their activities.
than the EQ­ and SQ­values were not collected
through the questionnaire (e.g. socio­economical            Further analyses of the quantity and choice of
background, intelligence, previous knowledge),              objects touched and labelled could be an
and no longitudinal data of the children were               interesting additional focus.
available. Thirdly, the influence of the use of small
groups when the children participated in the
learning environments could not be investigated.            Acknowledgement
                                                            This study is financially supported by the Klaus
Additionally, only some selected aspects, such              Tschira Foundation and the Forscherstation, the
as the focus of the children’s views, which were            Klaus Tschira Competence Center for Early Years
considered as measures for motivation based on              Science Education, which aims to inspire
their duration, were observed in this study.                enthusiasm for the natural sciences in children
                                                            of a very young age, by training kindergarten
Finally, the comparability of the groups in the             and primary school teachers. The Competence
sample of 2015 and 2016 might not be entirely               Center is an affiliation of the Klaus Tschira
accurate given the random composition of pre­               Foundation and is associated with the Heidelberg
school children.                                            University of Education.

Main Article                                                             JES15 Summer 2018 page 11
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Main Article                                                         JES15 Summer 2018 page 12
Pre-school children’s collaborative
science learning scaffolded by tablets
– A teacher’s view
l   Marie Fridberg    l   Susanne Thulin    l   Andreas Redfors

                                                           (Nihlfors, 2008; Gitomer & Zisk, 2015). Research
 This paper has also appeared in: Finlayson, O.,           also points to some key factors where teachers’
 McLoughlin, E., Erduran, S. & Childs, P. (Eds.)           knowledge of science is one central issue for the
 (2018) Electronic Proceedings of the ESERA 2017           learning (Siraj­Blatchford et al, 2002; Yoshikawa,
 Conference. Research, Practice and                        2013). Furthermore, Fleer (2009) expresses the link
 Collaboration in Science Education. Dublin,               between early childhood teachers’ limited science
 Ireland: Dublin City University.                          knowledge and teachers’ confidence and
 ISBN 978­1­873769­84­3.                                   competence to teach science. However she,
 Reproduced here with permission from ESERA.               together with other researchers, also point to
                                                           pre­school teachers’ pedagogical content
                                                           knowledge (PCK) and attitude towards science
Abstract                                                   as having an impact on children’s learning (Fleer,
The potential of tablets to support communication          2009; Thulin, 2011; Spector­Levy et al, 2013).
during collaborative inquiry­based science learning in
pre­school has previously been reported (Fridberg,         In this study, we make use of timelapse
Thulin & Redfors, 2017). Children communicate in a         photography and Slowmations. Timelapse
more advanced manner about the phenomenon and              photography is a technique that shows a slowly
they focus more readily on problem­solving when            changing event in accelerated speed, which is
active in experimentation or Slowmation production.        accomplished by photographing the event at
Here, we shift focus to the pre­school teacher’s           certain intervals and, when played at normal
perspective on science and the work model with             speed, the event seems much faster. A Slowmation
timelapse and Slowmation. The pre­school teacher’s         on the other hand is a stop­motion animation
talk about the teaching was analysed from three            played in slow motion to explain a science concept
perspectives: the relationships between teacher­           (Hoban, 2007). The work model implemented with
science, teacher­children, and children­science.           children aged 3 to 6 (Fridberg, Thulin & Redfors,
Possibilities and challenges expressed by the pre­         2017) constitutes four different learning contexts:
school teacher in relation to the three perspectives       i.e. hands­on experiments, timelapse photography,
were identified and, interestingly, the analysis shows      stimulated recall, followed by Slowmation creation,
most possibilities in the children­science relationship.   where the children represent explanatory models
In contrast, most challenges are found for the             in different materials, and which is versatile and
teacher­science relationship, in terms of lack of          opens up possibilities for the children to generate,
knowledge. We argue for the need to further discuss        represent and discuss explanatory models.
pre­ and in­service pre­school teachers’ experiences
of science and science education.                          From a theoretical framework primarily based
                                                           on phenomenography and variation theory
Keywords: Pre­school, science, tablets                     (Marton & Booth, 1997), focusing on
                                                           developmental pedagogy (Pramling Samuelsson
                                                           & Asplund Carlsson, 2008), this work aims to
Introduction                                               analyse variations of, in retrospect, expressed
One identified important factor for children’s              experiences by the teacher, for the four different
learning, whether in pre­school or in the education        contexts of science learning during a semi­
system as a whole, is teachers’ content knowledge          structured interview.

Main Article                                                            JES14 Summer 2018 page 13
The research question guiding the study is:            Results
                                                       The challenges and possibilities identified in the
p What differences in referential meaning can be        analysis of the teacher’s statements involving
  ascribed to the teacher’s statements about the       science and the work model will below be
  science teaching work model, especially              summarised as belonging to the themes:
  concerning possibilities and challenges?             knowledge, number of children, children’s previous
                                                       experiences, time constraints, and interactions.

Method                                                 Challenges described by the teacher include his
A semi­structured interview with open­ended            experienced lack of knowledge in science, even
questions was performed with the teacher one year      though he also stated that the project increased his
after the finalisation of the project. The teacher      knowledge. Another challenge expressed is
answered spontaneously, with follow­up questions       connected to numbers, when too many children
from the researcher. In addition, we used              take part in the activities. This was manifested in
stimulated recall where the teacher watched            the teacher expressing the need to take a more
selected parts of the video­recorded activities with   controlling role in the situation, compared to when
the children, and was asked to reflect on his role.     there are fewer children involved. Fewer children
The activities were chosen to represent four           allow for him to stand back and the discussions
enacted learning contexts analysed previously          among the children were more fruitful and less
(Fridberg et al, 2017). The teacher’s statements       stressful. However, in addition, the teacher
were analysed and categorised with specific             stressed that the number of children is only one
focuses, depicted in Figure 1.                         factor influencing the outcome. The results
                                                       achieved during the production of Slowmations,
Through a phenomenographic analysis, we could          etc. also depend on the individual children involved
identify variations of experienced possibilities and   and their previous experiences and ability to co­
challenges with parts of the science teaching work     operate. Yet another experienced limiting factor is
model, as described by the teacher.                    time and the pressure the teacher felt to reach
                                                       conclusions and ‘get somewhere’ during the
                                                       timeframe of the activity. This resulted in the
                    Teacher                            teacher sometimes seeing himself as someone who
                                                       provided the answers too quickly, or feeling that he
                                                       did not give the children space to think through the
                                                       activity. He described how the lived/felt time
                                                       pressure sometimes negatively influenced the
             A                                         discussions between him and the children.
                                    B                  The teacher reported that, during the project, he
                                                       came to expand his view of natural science from
                                                       one restricted to biology to then include also
                                                       chemistry and physics, something that can be
                                                       thought of as opening up opportunities. This result
Science teaching         C              Children       also concurs with the results of Thulin and Redfors
  work model                                           (2017), who found a large portion of students
                                                       having changed their views accordingly from pre­
Figure 1: The triangle of analysis depicts the three   to post­test related to a science course in pre­
relations A, B, C focused in the analysis of the       school teacher education.
teacher’s statements, related to A) the object of
learning in terms of the science teaching work         The possibilities described lie in the work model
model, B) the children, and C) the children’s          itself. It takes into consideration the children’s
relation to science or the work model.                 interest in tablets and captures many of the areas

Main Article                                                        JES15 Summer 2018 page 14
in the pre­school curriculum, such as natural            for students when they construct their own
science, mathematics and language, but also              representations of scientific processes and
values and interaction. The work model, with             concepts. These gains include the development of
discussions, hands­on experiments and                    students’ cognitive and reasoning strategies, the
timelapse/Slowmation production, where the               promotion of contexts that engender meaningful
children represent the phenomenon in different            communication of science understandings, and of
materials, is versatile and opens up the learning of     activities that are highly engaging for students. Our
the science phenomenon from several                      results were in agreement and revealed the
perspectives. This, according to the teacher, is         timelapse movies as beneficial for the children’s
consistent with the pre­school teacher’s mission to      model­based reasoning about the science content
include all children based on their individual needs     (evaporation), and the Slowmation movie
and pre­conditions.                                      production helped the children to think about
                                                         explanations for, and representations of, the
Most possibilities described by the teacher are          science content. Another interesting aspect of
found in the relationship between the children and       young children and their interaction with digital
the object of learning (side C in the triangle, Figure   technology is described by Kjällander and Moinian
1). He stated that the teachers and their attitudes      (2014). They studied pre­school children’s playful
to the work model or science are the limiting            use of applications on tablets and described how
factor, not the children. These results can be           their interactions resisted the pre­existing didactic
compared to Thulin (2011), who stated that the           design of the application. Instead, the children in
children were interested in the content and asked        their study transformed the application setting and
content­related questions. The children have no          objects into something that made sense and had
difficulties working with experiments, movie               meaning for them. The children designed their own
production, etc. The results depend on the attitude      process by making sense of affordances provided
of the teacher, who needs to be positive in order to     by the digital resource in relation to their own
have a fruitful outcome. Interestingly, and to the       interest and previous experience. This finding
contrary, most challenges are described in the           reflects children’s agency and opens up the way
relationship between the teacher himself and the         for thoughts on consumer and production
object of learning (side A in Figure 1), in terms of     processes in the digital arena (Kjällander &
experienced lack of knowledge.                           Moinian, 2014). We consider our proposed work
                                                         model with timelapse and Slowmation production
                                                         to fit well into an agentic view of childhood
Discussion                                               (Fridberg et al, 2017). In the present study, we
An increasing number of studies (Ainsworth, 1999;        expand our previous work, which focused on the
Prain & Waldrip, 2006) suggest that students’            children, to include the teacher’s views and
learning is enhanced when they create digital            experience of science and the jointly developed
artefacts, such as representations of science            work model.
concepts. Through this creation of an explanatory
model, skills such as creativity, problem­solving,       In order to help children to learn about something,
communication and collaboration can be                   it is important that the teacher considers children’s
developed (Nielsen & Hoban, 2015). We have               previous experiences, as well as the object of
previously studied and proposed a work model for         learning (Pramling Samuelsson & Asplund Carlsson,
children’s collaborative science learning through        2008; Thulin, 2011; Gustavsson, Jonsson, Ljung
the use of computer tablets. This teaching model         Djärf & Thulin, 2016). During the interview, the
includes discussions, experiments documented by          teacher highlighted the importance of the
timelapse photography, stimulated recall for the         children’s prior experiences when he stated that
teacher and children through watching timelapse          ‘It’s about what they have in their luggage too’ as he
movies, and a subsequent production of a                 described the lived curriculum. It is not the age of
Slowmation movie, where the children represented         the children, but their prior experiences, which set
their explanatory model in, for instance, playdough      the limits according to the teacher and this concurs
or LEGO® (Fridberg et al, 2017). Prain and Tytler        with the variation theory as described by Marton
(2013) argue that there are particular learning gains    (2015). Important for a teacher to consider is what

Main Article                                                          JES15 Summer 2018 page 15
the learners have not yet learned to discern about      Interestingly, and striking from the analysis, most
a certain object of learning, since these ‘lacking      challenges are expressed in the teacher­learning
pieces’ are critical aspects for further learning.      object relationship (A) and in terms of the
                                                        experienced lack of knowledge, while most
In a recent national report, Skolinspektionen (2016)    possibilities are described in the children­learning
describes how the science subject in Swedish pre­       object relationship (C). Different children show
schools often is acted out in somewhat random           interest in different parts of the versatile work
experiment activities, without guidance towards a       model, and the teacher viewed them as capable.
specific object of learning. The teacher in the          Instead, he pointed out that it is the knowledge and
present study pointed out the benefits of the work       attitude of the pre­school teacher towards science
model, including several subjects and aspects of        and the work model that will determine possible
science such as, for instance, language, technology     opportunities and challenges. In this case study, the
and mathematics.                                        teacher was stimulated by the work model, but was
                                                        less well prepared for the science content.
During the work process, the teacher also saw           Research on primary science teachers of young
other important parts of the curriculum being           children shows that teachers have insufficient
expressed, such as value systems and the children’s     knowledge of the subject and pedagogical content
ability to interact with each other. He suggested       knowledge (Appleton, 2008; Fleer, 2009; Thulin,
the work model to be used prior to a parent­            2011; Spector­Levy et al, 2013). Other studies also
teacher conference, since it would enable him as a      point to early childhood teachers’ lack of science
teacher to learn things about the children and their    subject matter knowledge (Kallery & Psillos, 2001;
capabilities that he didn’t know about. The teacher     Garbett, 2003) but, to date, only a few studies have
talked about children whom he knew to be a bit shy      focused on practising in­service pre­school
and withdrawn surprising him by being active and        teachers (Andersson & Gullberg, 2014). This relates
expressing their thoughts during the timelapse and      to justification for science in pre­school and the
Slowmation production. He connected this to the         ‘being’ and ‘becoming’ perspectives, where ‘being’
pre­conceptions and taken­for­granted                   refers to viewing children as actors in their own
assumptions that adults and teachers often have         lives and letting them meet the science primarily
about children’s capabilities.                          for their own sake, while the ‘becoming’ refers to
                                                        future uses of an early grounded knowledge.
Structural factors challenging the work with the        Thulin & Redfors (2017) do not polarise the two
model and science included the number of children       perspectives, but show that student pre­school
participating in the activity: the more children, the   teachers revealed a slight pre­dominance for the
more stressful a situation for the teacher to handle.   society – ‘becoming’ – perspective. However, from
However, he also pointed to the influence of which       the results presented here, we can say that both
children one, as a teacher, groups together in the      teacher and children benefited from and
activities, something that may be viewed as a           experienced a ‘being’ perspective concerning their
relational factor that either limits or enables the     model­based reasoning.
learning. If the children co­operate easily with
each other, the group can be larger. Another            In this study, different dilemmas that the teacher
structural factor challenging his work included an      encountered when working with science and the
experienced lack of time during the activities.         work model could be identified. In the teacher’s
This, according to the teacher, influenced his           own words, ‘It’s a balancing act all the time, it’s
discussions with the children in a negative way,        really tricky’. The teacher has to consider and
and prompted him to provide them with the               handle several factors at the same time, such as
correct answer to his questions, or to move on too      time management and children’s interactions,
fast without giving the children time to think as       when teaching a subject manifested in the
much as he would have liked them to. However, the       curriculum about which he is not really comfortable
main structural factor expressed by the teacher as      with his knowledge. He talked about the need for
limiting for his work is his experienced lack of        support, from both the children’s and the teacher’s
knowledge in science.                                   perspective. The children are dependent on him

Main Article                                                         JES15 Summer 2018 page 16
and his attitude towards the subject, and he in turn       unexpected things that happen in the moment;
needs support in the form of someone with whom             asking challenging questions to further
to discuss ideas, thoughts and questions. Or, in           investigations; and ‘situated presence’, that is,
other words, the need for someone who supports             remaining in the situation and listening to the
his work through discussions about the intended            children. By making use of these skills, pre­school
and enacted object of learning. In Thulin & Redfors        teachers may shift focus from their experienced
(2017), the majority of student pre­school teachers        insufficient subject matter knowledge to instead
were positive about science and this result is             reinforce their pedagogical content knowledge
contrary to the general impression in western              (Andersson & Gullberg, 2014).
countries that young people share negative views
of science. Like the student pre­school teachers in        At the same time, we argue that a polarisation
the Thulin & Redfors survey, the pre­school teacher        between science and science education is not
in the present study expressed a positive attitude         beneficial. In intertwining support of science content
to science. Instead, it was a feeling of not knowing       with implementation of work models such as the
enough about different science matters that the             one presented here, both knowledge of explanatory
teacher in this study saw as the challenge in his          models in science and competence in handling
work. This is further reflected in what we, as              activities with children can be seen to improve.
teachers in the pre­school teacher programme,
encounter in our work with students and the
science subjects. Our experience is that the               Conclusion and implications
students struggle with model­based reasoning,              The timelapse/Slowmation work model shows
while the attitude towards the subject is one of           promise for future developmental work concerning
positivity and curiosity among most students.              both children and teachers. We agree with Eshach
                                                           (2006) that support for teachers’ work with science
This raises an important question. When different           content in pre­school is needed, and the work
content in the Swedish pre­school curriculum is            model described by us could be viewed as one such
discussed, it is often from the children’s                 support structure, through its framing and
perspectives, and about how the content can be             meaning­making of the science content. The work
presented to fit the children’s interests and               model with timelapse and Slowmation production
previous experiences. Eshach (2006) reasons that           concurs with teaching from a child perspective and
the teacher perspective is equally important to            an agentic role of active children in collaboration
consider when working with science in early years:         (Fridberg et al, 2017). In the present study, where
                                                           previous work has been expanded to include the
‘I thus argue that educators should seek after such        teacher’s views and experience, we have found
science activities that not only fit the children’s needs   several distinct and important implications for pre­
but also the teachers’ abilities, motivations and          and in­service pre­school teacher education.
needs. (…) But to succeed in using such an approach,
a kindergarten teacher must receive sufficient               Results from this research on uses of our work
scientific support. (…) Thus, I argue that K­2 science      model for science teaching have given a list of
education should be teacher­centered as well as            implications – four ‘points­to­make’ for teacher
student­centered, as opposed to the traditional            education and pre­school practice.
student­centered approach’ (Eshach, 2006).                 Firstly, teaching with and about the work model
                                                           entails and highlights the importance and
Here, and in earlier work, we have seen the                fruitfulness of having planned teaching activities
importance and benefits of intertwining science             with formulated intended objects of learning,
content and science education research results in          which open up several overarching learning goals in
working with in­service pre­school teachers – a            the curriculum, such as communication, co­
view supported by Andersson and Gullberg (2014),           operation and world views, and bring in aspects of
who suggest four skills of which pre­school                other subjects, including language, technology and
teachers can make use when teaching science:               mathematics. Secondly, it combines digital
children’s previous experiences; capturing                 technology and science learning objects. Thirdly,

Main Article                                                            JES15 Summer 2018 page 17
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