Osborne, Jonathan, Pam Wadsworth, and Paul Black

Processes of Life

Liverpool University Press

ISBN 0-85323-178-8
Price: 7.00

Grade focus: K-2, 3-5

This report is one of a series developed by the Primary SPACE Project (Science Processes and Concept Exploration), based jointly at the Department of Education, University of Liverpool, and the Center for Educational Studies, King's College, London, UK The series describes studies conducted by researchers and teachers to understand elementary school children's ideas in particular science concept areas and how students modify their ideas as the result of brief teaching interventions.

This report contains: (1) a summary of previous research into children's ideas related to the concepts of living and non-living, human internal organs, and birth and death; (2) a description of student ideas about living and non-living, human bodies and processes of life (growth, reproduction, movement, feeding, excretion, respiration), and choices and actions required for healthy living, before they received any formal experiences relating to these ideas; (3) a description of the teaching intervention that was intended to encourage students to develop their ideas; (4) a description of student ideas after the teaching intervention; and (5) a summary of the research findings and implications for grade placement of related ideas in the British National Curriculum. Appendices include brief descriptions of the interview tasks that were used to explore student ideas and of the activities within the teaching interventions. The report includes some excerpts from student interviews and a few samples of student drawings of their bodies.

Some findings include: Before the intervention there were significant differences in the level of understanding and knowledge of the 6-year-old children compared to 8-year-old children. The knowledge and understanding of the 6- and 7-year-old children improved in many instances after the intervention. The intervention did not have any significant effect with the older children. Children from the age of 7 onwards were aware of the role of exercise and the choice of food in sustaining a healthy lifestyle. Most students of all ages saw eating simply as necessary to stay alive; both before and after the intervention, very few students saw food as essential for body maintenance. Very few students had knowledge about what the blood does or how it is carried around the body, either before or after the intervention.

Other titles in the series include: The Earth in Space; Evaporation and Condensation; Growth; Light; Materials; Rocks, Soil, and Weather; and Sound.