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Do Primary School Science Books for Children Show a Concern for Explanatory Understanding?

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Douglas Newton, Dr Anthony Blake


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Explanatory understanding is a valued goal in science education and yet research evidence suggests that, for a variety of reasons, it is not always a major concern of primary science teachers. Do primary science books shaow a concern for explanatory understanding? Using a structured analysis schedule, this study explored the extent to which 76 current primary science textbooks, intended for use with older primary children (7-11 years), showed a concern for explanatory understanding. The results indicated that the majority of the books did not reflect such a concern. Nevertheless, some books did include causal and intentional explanations. These could be a useful resource in that they could help shape both teachers' and children's conceptions of what counts as understanding in science.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Blake A; Newton DP; Newton LD; Brown K

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Research in Science & Technological Education

Year: 2002

Volume: 20

Issue: 2

Pages: 227-240

Print publication date: 25/08/2010

ISSN (print): 0263-5143

ISSN (electronic): 1470-1138

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/0263514022000030471

Notes: Texts relating to children’s knowledge and understanding of primary science are popular in the primary classroom, but little systematic analysis has been carried out on the types of understanding they promote in this knowledge domain and how effectively they support such understandings. This study provides a mechanism for teachers to use in selecting primary science texts for the classroom.


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