Teaching Magnetic Attraction to Preschool Children: A Comparison of Different Approaches

By Vasilia Christidou, Katerina Kazela, Domna Kakana and Maria Valakosta.

Published by The Learner Collection

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

The paper presents a comparison of different approaches for teaching magnetic attraction to preschool children. Three nursery school classes were involved in the study, two of which served as experimental groups (Experimental Group 1, N1=24 and Experimental Group 2, N2=25) and one as control group (N3=24). In Experimental Group 1 a socio-cognitive perspective was promoted, putting an emphasis on children’s alternative conceptions about magnets and magnetic forces as well as on their collaborative experimentation and their interactions within the groups and with their teacher. The intervention implemented in Experimental Group 2 also took into consideration children’s conceptions and combined specifically designed activities using storytelling, hands-on experiments, and drama. A traditional approach was adopted in the Control Group. The three approaches were evaluated on the basis of pre- and post-tests in order to estimate the evolution of children’s conceptions about magnetic forces. The results indicate that the traditional approach used in the Control Group had no significant impact on children’s understanding of magnetic attraction. On the other hand, the two experimental interventions lead to substantial improvements in preschoolers’ thinking. Moreover, interesting conclusions can be drawn from the comparison of the two experimental settings.

Keywords: Classroom Experiments, Drama, Magnetic Attraction, Preschool Children, Socio-Cognitive Perspective, Storytelling

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp.115-128. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.209MB).

Dr. Vasilia Christidou

Associate Professor, Department of Preschool Education, University of Thessaly, Volos, Greece

Dr. Vasilia Christidou is an Associate Professor in Science Education at the Department of Preschool Education, University of Thessaly, Greece. Her current research interests concern teaching and learning in science, children’s ideas in science, the promotion of Public Understanding of Science, and the process of recontextualization of scientific texts addressed to non-experts. She has coordinated and participated in a number of research projects related to teaching and learning science at both primary and secondary education, and has published numerous research articles and studies in journals, books, and conference proceedings.

Dr. Katerina Kazela

Visiting Teacher, Teacher Supervisor, Department of Preschool Education, University of Thessaly, Volos, Greece

Dr. Katerina Kazela is a preschool teacher supervisor and a visiting teacher at the Department of Preschool Education, University of Thessaly, Greece.

Prof. Domna Kakana

Professor, Department of Preschool Education, University of Thessaly, Volos, Greece

Domna Kakana is Professor in Theory of Preschool Education, at the Department of Preschool Education, University of Thessaly, Greece. She is director of the Laboratory of Theoretical and Applied Pedagogy and of the postgraduate program “Pedagogic toy and pedagogic material for early childhood” at the same Department. Her recent research interests include the development of contemporary teaching and learning environments in preschool education, such as collaborative environments, the new teaching approaches, and pre-service teachers’ training. She has participated as a leader or as a researcher in many European research programs in the field of Education and especially in designing new educational environments. She has over 60 publications in Greek and English, 6 books (2 editing) and over 70 oral presentations in international, European and Greek conferences.

Maria Valakosta

Dramatologist, MA in Education, University of Thessaly, Volos, Greece

Maria Valakosta is a dramatologist and has obtained her master’s degree in Education at the Department of Preschool Education, University of Thessaly, Greece.

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