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Title:Science discourse in one American kindergarten classroom
Author(s):Lin, Hui-Fen
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Daniel J. Walsh
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Early Childhood
Education, Sciences
Abstract:I conducted an ethnographic study of science discourse in a kindergarten classroom where the teacher, Mary, placed an emphasis on science. This study supports the notion that learning science does not consist only in the learning of scientific concepts and process, but in being enculturated into the discourse of science as well (Cobb, 1994).
From interviews with the teacher and observation in the classroom, I learned that learning science in Mary's classroom meant concrete experiences with caring for animals, planting a garden, and absorbing information in an atmosphere where imagination and an appreciation of nature could flourish.
I used participant observation, videorecording of classroom interactions and descriptions of the children's activity preferences to sketch out children's participation in science activities. I looked at the frequency of who participated in the science talk, how they project themselves in the science talk, and at their dramatic play. Gender differences appeared in activity preferences as well as in the participant structure of group discussion.
In analyzing the children's participant structure at group-time, I found that "contextual knowledge" was important to the children's classroom participant patterns. The teacher allocates about the same number of turns to the boys and the girls in the talking-within-turn structure, but the boys tended to talk out of turn much more often than the girls. These findings were grounded in the children's talking in and out of turn patterns, show-and-tell participation rate, and the frequency of claiming the "teacher's corner"--where was the spot closest to the teacher--and "after talk" the talk that occurred right after the group-time between teacher and children.
These findings have important implications for educators. A science rich classroom like Mary's can kindle many "sparkling moments." Awareness of the differences in children's participation is critical as teachers work to enculturate children into discourse of science. As children engage in block play or picture drawing and or participate by speaking or listening at group-time, the teacher has opportunities to encourage children's interest in science. If we look at science as ways of knowing the world around us, the challenge for us as educators is to seize the sparkling moments that occur daily and in those moments to draw children into the discourse of science.
Issue Date:1995
Rights Information:Copyright 1995 Lin, Hui-Fen
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9522139
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9522139

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