Title

The use of students' prior knowledge in science teaching

Date of Award

8-1-1999

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Master of Education (M. Ed.)

Department

Institute for Educational Development, Karachi

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore the feasibility of eliciting students prior knowledge in elementary science teaching, using a variety of innovative teaching activities and strategies. The study was conducted in a government school in Karachi and the data was collected in three stages: pre-intervention, intervention and post-intervention stages. Several theories of teaching and learning structures have been described in the literature, which emphasize the importance of eliciting students' ideas and prior knowledge as a primary step in teaching science. Elicitation is intended to initiate students to construct their own meanings and theories in science. Mentoring was used to provide support and guidance to the teacher in adopting a variety of innovative teaching strategies and activities to elicit students' prior knowledge and ideas in the class. The study findings support that eliciting students' prior knowledge in the class places students in a more responsible position for their learning. This study increased student confidence, enthusiasm and curiosity in the learning of science. Practicing sharing ideas with the teacher, and with one another in the class, led students to a greater understanding of the scientific concepts. The classroom teacher, also benefited by learning the innovative teaching strategies (brainstorming, mind mapping and the use of discrepancies) and changing her notions and perceptions about students' learning, through eliciting student ideas in science teaching. Eliciting students' prior knowledge may help students to better relate or compare their ideas with the scientific explanations and to enhance their own understanding of science concepts. She found the selective strategies used during the study, very useful and valuable means to involve students in the exploration of their prior knowledge. Overall, the study found that the elicitation of students' prior knowledge at the lower secondary level is feasible in science teaching, within the many constraints of the government system.

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