Genetic research methodology meets Early Childhood Science Education Research : a cultural-historical study of child’s scientific thinking development

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Fragkiadaki, Glykeria
Ravanis, Konstantinos

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The study reported in this paper aims to structure a cultural-historical understanding on how early childhood children experience science and how they develop scientific thinking as they interact with the social, cultural and material world. Moving beyond the cognitive dimensions of learning by interrelating different aspects of the process of children’s scientific thinking development constitutes a research priority for the study. From a wide range of collected data, in the present article one qualitative empirical case study is presented. The detailed single example that is analyzed refers to a kindergarten female student, aged 5.2 years old, from an urban area of Greece. A developmental research methodology as specified from the requirements of cultural-historical theory framework is used. Following four of the main principles of the experimental genetic method, this study creates a fecund ground for a cultural-historical exploration and interpretation of the very processes of the child’s development. The collection of the data was achieved through expanded, open-type conversations conducted at three concrete phases between the case study child, two of her peers and the educator. Drawing upon the system of theoretical concepts of cultural-historical theory the analysis is mainly based on the concept of perezhivanie as analytical tool as well as the concept of the developmental trajectories. The concept of the conceptualization of a precursor model as a theoretical tool that derives from the field of Science Education is also used. The analysis gives insights into how a certain social situation between children and educators in kindergarten settings becomes the unique social situation of a child’s development. Using as a base the dialectic perspective that Vygotsky posed in the analysis of human psyche, the study in this paper offers a creative insight in order to elaborate on a broad and dynamic understanding of the child’s development instead of an individualistic and static interpretation on her cognitive evolution. This cultural-historical reading is essential in capturing the child’s thinking in all its complexity as well as the uniqueness of the child. Summarizing the above, in this paper, new directions are laid for a more fruitful and dynamic support of young children’s learning and development in science through cultural- based educational practices and settings in kindergarten.



Cultural-historical theory, Scientific thinking, Early childhood, Science education, Perezhivanie, Genetic research methodology