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Preprimary student teachers’ view about the skill of observation Suomela, L., Ahtee, M., Juuti, K., Lampiselkä, J. & Lavonen, J. University of Helsinki.

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Presentation on theme: "Preprimary student teachers’ view about the skill of observation Suomela, L., Ahtee, M., Juuti, K., Lampiselkä, J. & Lavonen, J. University of Helsinki."— Presentation transcript:

1 Preprimary student teachers’ view about the skill of observation Suomela, L., Ahtee, M., Juuti, K., Lampiselkä, J. & Lavonen, J. University of Helsinki Presentation at EECERA conference, – , Prague

2 Liisa Suomela & al. Eecera Backgroud Science process skills became into the focus by the introduction of the SAPA (Science – A Process Approach) program. Skills, like observing, classifying and inferring, are related to cognitive processes. Skills have central role in concept development. However, there appears to be little knowledge how to support the development of these skills.

3 Liisa Suomela & al. Eecera Aims of the research Our aim is to understand what our students think about teaching science process skills, in the first phase “to observe” is in focus We want also to improve the student teachers’ knowledge and skills in teaching science process skills in preprimary and primary school

4 Liisa Suomela & al. Eecera A sample of fieldwork at school Task: Children (8 -9 years old, working in small groups) were given a task ” make observations of the marks of winter and write on a white paper what you find” Teacher: student (the basic courses of biology, geography, etc. must be done before practising teaching) Place: Helsinki, southern Finland, a park near the school Time: January, some years ago

5 Liisa Suomela & al. Eecera There´s always snow in Finland in the winter? (Middle Finland, Alavus, in the end of December 2006)

6 Liisa Suomela & al. Eecera and ice… ( Middle Finland, Alavus, in the end of December 2006)

7 Liisa Suomela & al. Eecera or is there ? (Helsinki, Baltic sea in the end of December 2006)

8 Liisa Suomela & al. Eecera Christmas, Helsinki 2005, city centre, high noon

9 Liisa Suomela & al. Eecera What did the children found out? ”there´s snow” real world: it was a time of winter in Helsinki when snow had smelted away and the groud was black, grey, hard and moistly, but there was not snow anywhere so, the children didn´t make any observations!

10 Liisa Suomela & al. Eecera THE OBSERVATIONS CAN BE THE BASIS OF KNOWLEDGE individual observations are crucial one needs to identify details and similarities drawing conclusions and classifying is essential (according to Taba 1966, 1967)

11 Liisa Suomela & al. Eecera Learning to observe ”gains a place in an interconnected complex of inquiry processes” ”is more than just seeing and looking” ” is a starting point of scientific processes” (Howes, E. 2007: Educative experiences and early childhood science education: A Deweyan perpective on learning to observe. Teaching and Teacher Education.)

12 Liisa Suomela & al. Eecera About observation The Observer senses curiosity motivation ability to concentrate knowledge The Object details entirety change The Environment physical social tools and materials classroom display  The use classify make concepts connect infer, etc.

13 Liisa Suomela & al. Eecera Observation pre-existing knowledge experiences is influenced by gather information “learned and transferred” cannot be identify patterns allow us to should be understand orders check ideas detailed relevant dialogue guided theory- independent

14 Liisa Suomela & al. Eecera Data Collection This research – a questionary - was conducted in autumn 2006 in the department of Applied sciences of education, University of Helsinki Preprimary teacher students (N = 71, mainly females) participated in the study Students have the course “didactics of science” usually in the third year of their curriculum

15 Liisa Suomela & al. Eecera Research questions What do you think is “to observe?” What do you understand with the skill of making observations? What do you think is crucial when you are teaching children the skill of making observations?

16 Liisa Suomela & al. Eecera Some results concerning the observer The great majority keep interest and attention essential Ability to concentrate is also important Observations are made with senses - more than half (58 %) mentioned senses Earlier knowledge effects on what is really observed - more than half ~ 54% thinks so, but An observer must forget all existing conceptions - 10 % writes like this!

17 Liisa Suomela & al. Eecera Results concerning the object Half mentioned the object: details –entirety, essential features One student wrote that ”there is never false observations”

18 Liisa Suomela & al. Eecera Results concerning the environment Only less than third of the respondends mention environmental factors (more social, few physical) and time Tools or instruments “are not needed?” ´ As few as 9 (~ 13 %) students considered also equipments, but none arrangements in classroom. Nobody mentioned equipments such as lenses, microscopes or telescopes. Third of the respondents think that you need to make notes from the observed things, phenomenons

19 Liisa Suomela & al. Eecera Results concerning the use of acquired information What to do with the information obtained from the observations is not considered “You need to compare and classify what you have observed” –only fifth of the respondents think like this Only some write about “connecting the acquired information to existing knowledge”

20 Liisa Suomela & al. Eecera Implications Focus on general principles how to make observations in science Focus on giving plenty of opportunities to get experience and routine in making observations and notes. The teacher needs to become consciousness of pupils’ existing knowledge and observations of the same observable phenomenon


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