Improving Primary School Students’ (11-12) Understanding about Water Pollution

By Dimitrios Marinopoulos and Helen Stavridou.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This study presents primary school students’ conceptions (aged 11-12) about water pollution and the ways that waste is transmitted in water. In total, 85 children from the town of Volos - Greece participated in this research. In order to identify students’ ideas before and after the didactical intervention, pupils answered a written questionnaire. Eight innovative units about water pollution were developed following the constructivist teaching approach. During the innovative teaching, children worked collaboratively in small groups of 4-5 persons, using worksheets and appropriate materials for the laboratory experiments. As for the notion of dilution, students used a particulate model of matter in order to develop mental representations of the phenomenon of water pollution and the mechanisms of waste transmission in water. From the students’ answers (pre-test questionnaire) it appeared that the majority of them consider the phenomenon of water pollution to be a local event and they did not realize that waste can be transmitted away from the places where it has been produced. After the teaching intervention, pupils seem to have understood (post-test questionnaire) that waste can be transmitted everywhere (international nature of water pollution) and they have improved substantially their ideas about the mechanisms of water pollution transmission.

Keywords: Students’ Ideas, Water Pollution, Diffusion, Dilution, Particulate Structure of Matter, Collaborative Learning, Social Constructivism

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp.143-150. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 610.487KB).

Dimitrios Marinopoulos

Teacher, Researcher of Science Education, Pedagogical Department of Primary Education, University of Thessaly, Volos, Greece

Mr. Dimitrios Marinopoulos received his bachelor in Pedagogy from the Department of Primary Education of the University of Thessaly (1997) and PhD in Teaching and Learning Science Education (2003) from the same institution. He has participated in numerous research programs, which include “The island of Faiakes: A pilot educational exploitation of the network and the computational technology in Elementary School” and “Innovative approaches for an effective teaching and learning of the concepts of vital and non-vital substance”. Mr. Marinopoulos has many published articles in scientific magazines written in English and Greek. He works as a teacher in a Primary School and he teaches Science Education to the Pedagogical Department of Primary Education of the University of Thessaly.

Helen Stavridou

Professor of Science Education, Pedagogical Department of Primary Education, University of Thessaly, Volos, Greece

Mrs. Helen Stavridou received her Bachelor in Chemistry from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (1974) and her Master (D.E.A.) and PhD in Science and Technology Education in 1985 and 1990, respectively, from Paris 7 University. She has participated in numerous research programs, which include “The ideas of students and student teachers as a guide for a more rational Science teaching in Primary Education” “Teaching approach of concepts and phenomena of chemistry and development of software and multi-media material for a more efficient teaching in pupils and undergraduate students”, “The island of Faiakes: A pilot educational exploitation of the network and the computational technology in Elementary School”, and “Innovative approaches for an effective teaching and learning of the concepts of vital and non-vital substance”. Mrs. Stavridou has 126 published articles in scientific magazines and national and international conferences, written in English, French and Greek. She is currently a professor of Science Education in the Pedagogical Department of Primary Education of the University of Thessaly and the director of studies of the post-graduate program “Modern Learning Environments and Educational Material Production” of the same institution.

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