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postgraduate thesis: Development and evaluation of instructivist and constructivist approaches to early science teaching in Chinese urban kindergartens

TitleDevelopment and evaluation of instructivist and constructivist approaches to early science teaching in Chinese urban kindergartens
Authors
Advisors
Issue Date2013
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Zhang, J. [張俊]. (2013). Development and evaluation of instructivist and constructivist approaches to early science teaching in Chinese urban kindergartens. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5177325
AbstractEarly childhood has been proven critical for science learning and development, but there is a dearth of empirical research comparing the effects of different teaching approaches in the Chinese context. This study had three main objectives: (1) to observe early science teaching systematically in urban kindergartens in Mainland China; (2) to develop three different teaching approaches (constructivist, instructivist and combined) for a science curriculum for 5-year-olds based on these observations and current views on appropriate early science pedagogy; (3) to implement and examine the effectiveness of the differing approaches to early science teaching. In Study 1, classes in three kindergartens rated as good, average and unsatisfactory by the government regulatory body were video-recorded in their science classrooms with 6 lessons on appointed topics and 6 on self-chosen topics. Teaching behaviors were analyzed in terms of the instructional approach and its effectiveness. The results indicated variations in teaching approaches across the kindergartens. The teacher from the unsatisfactory kindergarten adopted a typical instructivist approach in science teaching, whereas the other two teachers gave children hands-on experiences as well as group discussions and direct instructions; nevertheless, there was poor connectedness among them. All three teachers were weak in considering the scientific conceptions embedded in the topics as well as the children’s prior conceptions when planning their teaching. To examine the appropriateness of teaching approaches in a Chinese context, the researcher developed three sets of early science programs for 5-year-olds, each of which contained three topics: ants, trees, and shadows. The three programs adopted instructivist, constructivist, and combined approaches. Employing the above programs, Study 2 was conducted in another kindergarten rated as average by the regulatory body. The participants were 4 qualified teachers and their 117 five-year-old students. The children were assigned randomly to four groups, one using an instructivist approach, one a constructivist approach, one combined approaches, and a control group. During the 15-week intervention, each group had science lesson once a week. Three teachers were invited to implement the provided programs and accepted ongoing training. The fidelity of their implementation of the curricula was also assessed. Pretest, posttest, and follow-up (12 weeks delayed) tests were administered to the children, covering three aspects of their science learning: content (curriculum-related and general knowledge about science), process (observation, scientific thinking, and problem-solving skills), and attitude (scientific interest and curiosity as well as approaches to learning). A repeated measures ANOVA yielded a significant main effect of time but no effect of group. Further analyses indicated that the combined approach was more effective than the control group’s approach in promoting children’s development of conceptual knowledge and curiosity. These findings provide empirical evidence about the teaching and learning of science in kindergartens in a Chinese context. The study has implications for the reform in early science teaching approach and corresponding in-service teacher training in Mainland China.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectScience - Study and teaching (Early childhood) - China
Dept/ProgramEducation
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/196463

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorvan Aalst, JCW-
dc.contributor.advisorRao, N-
dc.contributor.authorZhang, Jun-
dc.contributor.author張俊-
dc.date.accessioned2014-04-11T23:14:27Z-
dc.date.available2014-04-11T23:14:27Z-
dc.date.issued2013-
dc.identifier.citationZhang, J. [張俊]. (2013). Development and evaluation of instructivist and constructivist approaches to early science teaching in Chinese urban kindergartens. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5177325-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/196463-
dc.description.abstractEarly childhood has been proven critical for science learning and development, but there is a dearth of empirical research comparing the effects of different teaching approaches in the Chinese context. This study had three main objectives: (1) to observe early science teaching systematically in urban kindergartens in Mainland China; (2) to develop three different teaching approaches (constructivist, instructivist and combined) for a science curriculum for 5-year-olds based on these observations and current views on appropriate early science pedagogy; (3) to implement and examine the effectiveness of the differing approaches to early science teaching. In Study 1, classes in three kindergartens rated as good, average and unsatisfactory by the government regulatory body were video-recorded in their science classrooms with 6 lessons on appointed topics and 6 on self-chosen topics. Teaching behaviors were analyzed in terms of the instructional approach and its effectiveness. The results indicated variations in teaching approaches across the kindergartens. The teacher from the unsatisfactory kindergarten adopted a typical instructivist approach in science teaching, whereas the other two teachers gave children hands-on experiences as well as group discussions and direct instructions; nevertheless, there was poor connectedness among them. All three teachers were weak in considering the scientific conceptions embedded in the topics as well as the children’s prior conceptions when planning their teaching. To examine the appropriateness of teaching approaches in a Chinese context, the researcher developed three sets of early science programs for 5-year-olds, each of which contained three topics: ants, trees, and shadows. The three programs adopted instructivist, constructivist, and combined approaches. Employing the above programs, Study 2 was conducted in another kindergarten rated as average by the regulatory body. The participants were 4 qualified teachers and their 117 five-year-old students. The children were assigned randomly to four groups, one using an instructivist approach, one a constructivist approach, one combined approaches, and a control group. During the 15-week intervention, each group had science lesson once a week. Three teachers were invited to implement the provided programs and accepted ongoing training. The fidelity of their implementation of the curricula was also assessed. Pretest, posttest, and follow-up (12 weeks delayed) tests were administered to the children, covering three aspects of their science learning: content (curriculum-related and general knowledge about science), process (observation, scientific thinking, and problem-solving skills), and attitude (scientific interest and curiosity as well as approaches to learning). A repeated measures ANOVA yielded a significant main effect of time but no effect of group. Further analyses indicated that the combined approach was more effective than the control group’s approach in promoting children’s development of conceptual knowledge and curiosity. These findings provide empirical evidence about the teaching and learning of science in kindergartens in a Chinese context. The study has implications for the reform in early science teaching approach and corresponding in-service teacher training in Mainland China.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.subject.lcshScience - Study and teaching (Early childhood) - China-
dc.titleDevelopment and evaluation of instructivist and constructivist approaches to early science teaching in Chinese urban kindergartens-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb5177325-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineEducation-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.identifier.doi10.5353/th_b5177325-

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