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Do teachers support causal understanding through their discourse when teaching primary science?

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Douglas Newton


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Understanding is a requirement of the National Curriculum for Science. To what extent do teachers press for causal understanding through their discourse in primary science lessons? Fifty Key Stage 2 primary science lessons (years 3 - 6; 7 + -10 + years) were observed in the north-east of England and the nature of the discourse was examined. There were low levels of teacher discourse that related explicitly to causes and reasons. Discourse relating to facts and description was much more common. Further, discourse to do with causes and reasons with younger children tended to occur less than with older children and that of non-specialist teachers tended to be less than that of subject specialists. Some potential explanations are described. A possible way to encourage a press for causal understanding in science through teacher discourse is suggested.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Newton DP, Newton LD

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Educational Research Journal

Year: 2000

Volume: 26

Issue: 5

Pages: 598-612

ISSN (print): 0141-1926

ISSN (electronic): 1469-3518

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/713651580


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