ERIC Number: ED433213
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1999
What Sense Do Children Make of Three-Dimensional Life-Sized "Representations" of Animals?
Tunnicliffe, Sue Dale; Reiss, Michael J.
This study examines what children learn about animals. The mental models that children reveal through their talk when they are faced with several different types of representations are reviewed. These representations are provided by robotic models in a museum, preserved animals in a museum, and preserved animals borrowed from a museum and presented in a school setting. The features of an animal, which are defining ones for a child, can be revealed by obtaining representations from the child of specimens that the child has viewed. These representations may be written descriptions, oral descriptions, drawings, or three-dimensional models. The museum study was conducted with groups of pupils on school visits to the Natural History Museum in London where the children's spontaneous conversations at preserved animal or robotic models were recorded. In the classroom study, preserved museum animals were taken to a school for individual children's responses to a series of pre-determined questions to be recorded. Overall, anatomical features were cited more often than behavioral or habitat features. Some pupils linked anatomical features to where the animals lived and to certain behaviors. In the classroom, pupils related their observations to their own previous experience such as seeing the animal in the woods, on the television, or in the zoo. The analyzed museum conversations suggest that children simply use their everyday knowledge and understanding to interpret what they see and to allocate everyday names using anatomical clues as their guide. (CCM)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association of Research in Science Teaching (Boston, MA, March 28-31, 1999).