There has been a recent push towards promoting science learning in the early years. Despite these endeavours, understanding the best tools and pedagogy to facilitate this can often be challenging, particularly when curricular design is an activity resting on some fundamental assumptions about the organisation of knowledge and the development of children’s understanding. Questions into the processes of conceptual thinking and how the nature of the mind is organised cannot be fully understood without first exploring the potential processes behind conceptual change and above all the ways in which related concepts are coordinated and interlinked, something that has rarely been the focus of psychological investigation due to the methodological challenges involved.
This seminar discusses these issues in relation to past research and presents new approaches to assessing conceptual progression in science in order to establish a putative developmental trajectory of science understanding across the early years. Methodological issues from the challenge of capturing children’s understanding of science are discussed, as are new insights from research in the field of embodied cognition and how these are shaping current research practices on the Move2Learn project; a project exploring the role of children’s gesture and meaningful action in informal science learning settings by observing children’s interactions with tangible science exhibits.
Zayba Ghazali-Mohammed is a Research Associate at the Centre for Research in Digital Education (Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh). She completed her PhD in Developmental Psychology at University College London. Her main research interests include cognitive development of young children’s scientific understanding, the role of executive functions and other domain-general capabilities on conceptual progression, naïve theories of learning, and how developing language can influence scientific understanding. Zayba has previously worked as a consultant for UNESCO writing reports on the challenges girls face worldwide in entering STEM education and STEM professions. She is currently working on the Move2Learn project investigating the role of embodied cognition and immersive technologies on science learning within museum contexts.