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Title:Dialogues on Classification About Life: A Classroom Teacher's Dilemma
Author(s):Carmen, Elsa Esclamide
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Easley, J., Jr.,
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Anthropology, Cultural
Education, Elementary
Education, Sciences
Abstract:This study focuses on children's dialogues about their beliefs about what is living, what is a plant, and what is an animal and why. How these ideas were influenced by their peers and the investigator's intervention or lack of it are likewise addressed in the dissertation.
Using Peer Group Dialogue (PGD) and the Interview-About-Instances as teaching and interview techniques, the investigator encouraged the subjects to interact with each other as they were shown cards representing examples and nonexamples of a living thing, a plant, or an animal, and were asked what they think about them. Following a pilot study, dry run interviews were conducted with a small group of third grade American children to try out the expanded interview procedures for the second study. The second study was conducted with a small group of four to five boys in grades one to six from a laboratory school in the Philippines. The subjects were interviewed three times. First, individually to establish their initial concepts, then as a group, and individually again afterwards. This was to determine whether or not peer group dialogues or the investigator's interventions have affected the children's initial conceptions. Results for analysis came from the dry run interviews and the second study. Some interesting ideas of children from the pilot study are also described.
The results showed a marked similarity between the beliefs of American and Filipino children, which supported the results of related studies from other countries. As indicated in previous research, animism and anthropomorphism were evident in many of the children's responses to the question about life. However, these types of explanations did not seem to be a product of age but was distributed irregularly across grade levels, especially among the Filipinos. Culture did not seem to have any influence on children's ideas either. Other notions and justifications common to both groups included purpose or usefulness for life, similarities or dissimilarities to people or other animals, linguistic and semantic issues, and appeal to authorities. In both groups, even the younger subjects were found to hold conventional science concepts.
While PGD provided a favorable environment for the exchange of ideas among the children, it also encouraged the children to compare and evaluate their concepts and those of their peers, resulting in conceptual reorganization after certain inconsistencies in their ideas were pointed out to them. It was also found that questions and suggestions from their peers were better understood than those from the teacher. This may be because of the great disparity between the teacher's and pupils' understandings of basic concepts and issues. When children were encouraged to bring out their ideas without the investigator judging whether they are right or wrong, their explanations were longer and they demonstrated willingness to listen to the ideas of their peers. Several instances of conceptual change due to peer influence are noted and described.
Overall this study suggests that dialogues, either among children or between the teacher and the students, are beneficial in promoting learning and conceptual reorganization and should be encouraged in every classroom. An invitation to dialogue was offered to both researchers and teachers. If considered, it will make all the difference to our students and in our classrooms.
Issue Date:1994
Description:158 p.
Thesis (Ed.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1994.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI9503154
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-16
Date Deposited:1994

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