Children's experiences of science beyond school: An exploration of children and young people’s experiences of, and attitudes to, learning science outside the school environment using children’s voice approaches, framed within the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Lauren Boath, Colette Murphy (Contributing member)

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract

Overview: This study uses a children’s rights-based methodology to access children’s experiences and perceptions of science learning in and out of school. Scotland’s curriculum, Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), defined as the “totality of experiences which are planned for children … wherever they are being educated” (Scottish Government, 2008), recognises learning wherever it happens. The role of partners in supporting and progressing children’s science learning is of increasing importance (Education Scotland, 2012). However, Stocklmayer et al. (2010) note that it is only recently that the informal sector has been recognised as having a role to play in education, hence a growing need to identify potential synergies between learning in school and out of school. The language of CfE which recognises the role of the child in the learning experience is perhaps the most radical and innovative element of the Scottish curriculum reform which has taken since 2004 (Priestley & Minty, 2012). Despite this, engagement with children’s voice in Scotland’s schools can be described as tokenistic (McCluskey et al., 2013; Robinson & Taylor, 2007; Tisdall, 2007), with little or no engagement around matters of learning and teaching. Methodological approaches: Children’s voice and perspectives are notably absent from much research to understand science learning (see, for example, Buntting et al., 2015). Employing an approach framed by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) as a methodological enactment of cultural-historical theory, we used an innovative children’s rights-based approach, based on previous science education research with children (Murphy et al., 2013). We explored children’s experiences and perceptions of science learning beyond school by involving 11 children as coresearchers, a CRAG (children’s research advisory group), and a larger group (600+) as research participants who completed a questionnaire, codesigned by CRAG & researchers, to inform thinking on connections between learning science in and out of school. Initial findings: CRAG children interpreted survey findings differently from the adult researchers. For example, in available responses to the question “how good do you think you are at science?” were “very good, OK, not good”. Researchers took “very good and OK” responses as positive, and “not good” as a negative. CRAG interpretation was far more nuanced, suggesting that OK might mean different things, e.g. • they are comparing themselves with others - not the best in the class, but not worst. • there are some bits they can do, other bits they find harder. • average. • linked with how much they enjoy it and how much effort they put in. • girls who don’t give themselves recognition “I’m pretty good at it but I don’t want to say that”. The CRAG suggested that if the questionnaire were to be used again, we would need to reconsider the questions, perhaps including an opportunity for more open-ended responses. Significance: Data analysis is at an early stage. We will present overall findings and conclusions on connecting science learning in and out of school deriving from this work, an area which is currently underexplored in Scotland, and in which children’s rights are ignored or underplayed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2016
Event3rd European Conference on Curriculum Studies 2017: Curriculum: Theory, Policy, Practice - University of Stirling, Stirling, United Kingdom
Duration: 16 Jun 201717 Jun 2017
https://www.stir.ac.uk/social-sciences/news/past-events/conferences/3rdeuropeanconferenceoncurriculumstudies/ (Link to conference information)

Conference

Conference3rd European Conference on Curriculum Studies 2017
Abbreviated titleECCS 2017
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityStirling
Period16/06/1717/06/17
Internet address

Keywords

  • Children's voice
  • UNCRC 1989
  • Science learning

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