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“Because the light brightens the tree” – Building on pupils’ naïve conceptions
Knowledge building
elementary science classrooms
conceptual understanding
Issue Date: 
Lee, C. B., & Tan, S. C. (2006). “Because the light brightens the tree” – Building on pupils’ naïve conceptions. In Y. J. Lee, A. L. Tan & B. T. Ho (Eds.), Proceedings of ISEC 2006 (pp. 481-488). Singapore: National Institute of Education.
This paper documented the effort of our pilot study to examine the outcomes of implementing knowledge building in a 4th-grade science classroom. It was an initial phase of a larger scale study that aimed to use the Knowledge Building approach (Scadamalia, 2002) to achieve deep science learning. Knowledge Building, in essence, aims to instill in pupils the dispositions and skills in refining ideas through active collaboration. It was introduced and implemented in the 4th-grade science classrooms (n=250) in a Singapore public elementary school. Teacher-centric didactic teaching used to be the prevalent mode of instruction in these classrooms. Using the Knowledge Building approach, pupils went through a cycle of idea generation, idea consolidation, experimentation, and rise above. Guided by their science teachers, they continuously generated, connected, and reflected on ideas related to heat and light. Collaborative inquiry occurred in groups of 4-6 pupils during which they had to co-construct group’s artifacts (for example, a summary of their ideas on a A3 paper) as well as individual reflection. At the end of each session, the teacher conducted whole class discussion to facilitate sharing of ideas and to bring closure to the session. A pre and post test was carried out in one of these classes (n=35) to investigate the effects of Knowledge Building intervention on the unit of light. We were interested to explore and document the effect of a new pedagogical innovation on children’s conceptual understanding and explanatory framework when trying to understand the phenomenon of the reflection of light during the knowledge building intervention. Although preliminary results shows that after the intervention of Knowledge Building approach, the explanatory framework of our pupils did not seem to have made tremendous improvement, it was encouraging to discover that our pupils had undergone active meaning making process during the intervention. From the pre and post test, it was obvious that all 35 pupils made attempts to modify their initial understanding. We believe that the knowledge building culture had created an impact on the way pupils construct their knowledge. Pupils’ ideas were valued and served as foundation for knowledge advancement.
This paper was presented at the International Science Education Conference (ISEC 2006), held in Singapore from 22 - 24 Nov 2006
Appears in Collections:Conference Papers

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