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European Journal of Psychology of Education

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 191–205 | Cite as

The development of the concept of alive by preschoolers through a cognivive conflict teaching intervention

  • Vassiliki Zogza
  • Yannis Papamichael
Article

Abstract

The aim of this research was the conceptual change and transformation of the intuitive conceptions of preschoolers concerning life through a cognitive—conflict teaching intervention. Young children use the criterion of movement to justify the classification of objects as living or non-living, that is classify plants as non-living because they are immobile and mobile non-alive objects as living. The concept of life includes many sub-concepts and movement is a secondary and not a universal characteristic of living organisms. The subjects of this research were chosen according to their replies concerning the classification of plants as non-living. Subjects of the experimental group received a teaching intervention aiming at the change of their conceptual context about life and focusing mainly at the dependence of an organism to its environment. In the teaching intervention we used the procedure of cognitive conflict through the juxtaposition of live organisms to dead ones and mobile simulations. Our results show that all the children of experimental group presented a conceptual change classifying the plant as alive and using explanations including the dependence on environment and other functions, increasing the number of criteria used for justification of the animal as living.

Key words

Alive Cognitive Conceptions Conflict Teaching 

Résumé

L’objectif de cette recherche est l’étude du changement conceptuel de la notion du vivant chez les enfants d’âge préscolaire. Selon notre hypothèse, il est possible de favoriser le changement conceptuel en soumettant aux enfants des tâches qui incitent à la construction de modèles plus élaborés. Dans le but de mettre cette hypothèse à l’épreuve, nous avons conduit cette recherche avec des élèves dont les connaissances comportaient uniquement des conceptions vitalistes et/ou mécanistes que nous qvons tenté de déstabiliser, afin de les remplacer, à travers des situations didactiques porteuses de conflits cognitifs, par une conception de la notion du vivant plus cohérente, celle de l’échange de l’organisme vivant avec le milieu. Les résultats montrent que les jeunes élèves peuvent comprendre les contradictions lorsque les données qui infirment leurs conceptions initiales sont présentées simultanément. Plus concrètement, lors du post test, les enfants du groupe expérimental se sont montrés capables d’intégrer le monde végétal dans la catégorie des objets vivants, d’abandonner le critère du mouvement lors de la distinction “vivant-non vivant”, ainsi que de produire une argumentation plus fournie pour justifier l’appartenance des animaux à la catégorie du vivant.

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Copyright information

© Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Lisbon, Portugal/ Springer Netherlands 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vassiliki Zogza
    • 1
  • Yannis Papamichael
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Experimental Psychology of Education and Science EducationUniversity of Patras, Department of Early Childhood EducationPatrasGreece

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