Children's knowledge of astronomy and its change in the course of learning
Review articleOpen access

AbstractThis study examined the nature of 5-, 6-, and 7-year-old children's (n = 113) knowledge of astronomy and the process of knowledge change during learning. Children's pre-existing knowledge was assessed by questions and drawing tasks. About half of the children were taught elementary concepts of astronomy in small groups and afterwards all participants’ knowledge was assessed again. Most children could be categorized as having fragmented astronomy knowledge and the proportion of non-scientific models first proposed by Vosniadou & Brewer [Vosniadou, S., & Brewer, W. F. (1992). Mental models of the Earth: A study of conceptual change in childhood. Cognitive Psychology, 24, 535–585] was no greater than could be expected by chance. Children seemed to acquire factual information rather easily and therefore early instruction should introduce the core facts related to the topics. Some children over-generalized new knowledge very easily, indicating that the materials used in teaching may promote the development of non-scientific notions and that those notions must be addressed promptly to avoid the development of coherent non-scientific models.

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