ERIC Number: EJ1089730
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Abstractor: As Provided
Exploring Third-Grade Student Model-Based Explanations about Plant Relationships within an Ecosystem
Zangori, Laura; Forbes, Cory T.
International Journal of Science Education, v37 n18 p2942-2964 2015
Elementary students should have opportunities to develop scientific models to reason and build understanding about how and why plants depend on relationships within an ecosystem for growth and survival. However, scientific modeling practices are rarely included within elementary science learning environments and disciplinary content is often treated as discrete pieces separate from scientific practice. Elementary students have few, if any, opportunities to reason about how individual organisms, such as plants, hold critical relationships with their surrounding environment. The purpose of this design-based research study is to build a learning performance to identify and explore the third-grade students' baseline understanding of and their reasoning about plant-ecosystem relationships when engaged in the practices of modeling. The developed learning performance integrated scientific content and core scientific activity to identify and measure how students build knowledge about the role of plants in ecosystems through the practices of modeling. Our findings indicate that the third-grade students' ideas about plant growth include abiotic and biotic relationships. Further, they used their models to reason about how and why these relationships were necessary to maintain plant stasis. However, while the majority of the third-grade students were able to identify and reason about plant-abiotic relationships, a much smaller group reasoned about plant-abiotic-animal relationships. Implications from the study suggest that modeling serves as a tool to support elementary students in reasoning about system relationships, but they require greater curricular and instructional support in conceptualizing how and why ecosystem relationships are necessary for plant growth and development.
Descriptors: Grade 3, Elementary School Students, Elementary School Science, Models, Plants (Botany), Ecology, Teaching Methods, Logical Thinking, Knowledge Level, Hands on Science, Semi Structured Interviews, Qualitative Research, Statistical Analysis
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Grade 3; Primary Education; Elementary Education; Early Childhood Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A