Children Merging Quantification Into Their Qualitative Intuitions About Density.
Abstract: This study examines the role of quantification in children's
understanding of basic relations implicit in the understanding of the concept of density.
Even though qualitative thinking is important for learning science concepts, quantification
is also essential in science education. Offering opportunities for students to make
connections between quantitative and qualitative aspects of... read morescientific concepts may allow
students to construct a deeper understanding of these concepts themselves and to appreciate
the values and ways of doing science, especially in the case of concepts involving
intensive quantities. The goal of the study was to evaluate whether and how experiencing
the process of quantification to reflect upon the relationships among properties of
objects, such as weight and volume, thus transforming these natural properties into
quantities by assigning numerical values to them, helps children (1) activate and reconcile
their intuitive ideas to successfully consider a second degree relationship between two
first degree relationships (the relationship between weights and the relationship between
volumes), and (2) to construct a linear relationship between weight and volume for a
certain material. Data come from one-hour long videotaped interviews of 20 third to fifth
graders. In the intervention phase of the interview, children used a modified scale and a
simplified ruler to compare and quantify the weights and sizes of specially designed
cylinders and to answer questions that required merging qualitative and quantitative
aspects of weight and size. Results show that, after the intervention phase of the
interview, children reached a better understanding of the relationships among weight,
volume, and kinds of materials and performed better in a posttest requiring an implicit
understanding of density.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2012.
Submitted to the Dept. of Education.
Advisor: Analúcia Schliemann.
Committee: Bárbara Brizuela, Roger Tobin, and David Carraher.
Keywords: Science education, and Mathematics education.read less