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Title: Between science and place : Saudi children's ideas of the earth
Author: Alanazi, Fayadh Hamed Fayadh
ISNI:       0000 0004 5358 3027
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2014
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The purpose of this study was to explore Saudi children's ideas about astronomical bodies, drawing from the theoretical perspective of social-cultural learning. A socio-cultural perspective was adapted in an effort to recognise scientific knowledge as one aspect of various co-existing types of natural world knowledge. This is considered fundamental when acknowledging that Saudi children live by their own framework when describing their surroundings and natural phenomena, utilising their everyday culture, life experiences and theological knowledge base. Hence, a socio-cultural model of learning in science education can provide for a more holistic approach to Saudi children's education. A naturalistic approach was employed. This study was carried out across two phases, using interviews and classroom observation methods. In Phase 1, 30 children, aged between 6 and 9 years old (1st, 2nd and 3rd grades), from six primary schools (two schools for each grade) in the north of Saudi Arabia, participated in semi-structured interviews, supported by the creation of drawings and models, in order to explore the multi-faceted nature of children's understanding. In Phase 2, classroom observations were carried out in the same primary schools as Phase 1 with the aim of examining the position of children as knowledge-producers and in the view of themselves as inhabitants of the Earth. The results showed that Saudi children shaped their thinking about the Earth from different perspectives. Physical conceptions (e.g., the Earth is circle), terrestrial conceptions (e.g., the Earth is place where we can live, sleep and eat) and metaphysical conceptions (e.g., the Earth is created only for worship) were identified. The findings suggest that social interaction with teachers—mainly through dialogue—is most suitable when investigating and analysing the everyday perspectives of children from a social dimension, with such an approach providing the opportunity to encourage children to learn as the Earth's 'inhabitants'. Moreover, the various instruments utilised—including language as a cultural tool through which children are able to discuss and think together, as well as the use of other physical artefacts, including the globe—are recognised as fundamental, with children's learning not only dependent on age. In this vein, it may be stated that children's thinking and learning in relation to the Earth begins externally through social interactions, both with people and tools. xii Based on the findings, some implications for science educators in general, and Saudi Arabia in particular, are highlighted. It is argued that the misconception of local values and beliefs in the learning of science is an important goal for science education in an international context.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Comprehension in children ; Science