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ERIC Number: EJ941467
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Oct
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1059-0145
Influence of Previous Knowledge, Language Skills and Domain-Specific Interest on Observation Competency
Kohlhauf, Lucia; Rutke, Ulrike; Neuhaus, Birgit
Journal of Science Education and Technology, v20 n5 p667-678 Oct 2011
Many epoch-making biological discoveries (e.g. Darwinian Theory) were based upon observations. Nevertheless, observation is often regarded as "just looking" rather than a basic scientific skill. As observation is one of the main research methods in biological sciences, it must be considered as an independent research method and systematic practice of this method is necessary. Because observation skills form the basis of further scientific methods (e.g. experiments or comparisons) and children from the age of 4 years are able to independently generate questions and hypotheses, it seems possible to foster observation competency at a preschool level. To be able to provide development-adequate individual fostering of this competency, it is first necessary to assess each child's competency. Therefore, drawing on the recent literature, we developed in this study a competency model that was empirically evaluated within learners (N = 110) from different age groups, from kindergarten to university. In addition, we collected data on language skills, domain-specific interest and previous knowledge to analyse coherence between these skills and observation competency. The study showed as expected that previous knowledge had a high impact on observation competency, whereas the influence of domain-specific interest was nonexistent. Language skills were shown to have a weak influence. By utilising the empirically validated model consisting of three dimensions ("Describing", "Scientific reasoning" and "Interpreting") and three skill levels, it was possible to assess each child's competency level and to develop and evaluate guided play activities to individually foster a child's observation competency.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A