Investigations of people’s understanding of the evolution of species have focused mainly on secondary school and university students. Very few investigations have taken into consideration younger students, and none have related children’s ideas about the origin of species to formal instruction on this topic. To help fill this gap, the present study examines the effect of this instruction in elementary school children by comparing Italian second graders (n = 21; age = 7 years, 1 month, to 8 years, 7 months) with third graders (n = 18; age = 8 years, 1 month, to 9 years, 4 months) who had been taught about “the earth before humans” for several months in keeping with the Italian National Syllabus for this grade level. Semistructured interviews were used to examine children’s thoughts about speciation. The majority of second graders used a creationist framework, whereas most third graders used a mixed framework (referring to both creation and evolution) or an evolutionary framework. However, children did not know about the mechanism of evolution and considered it to be the result of the passage of time, the use and disuse of body parts, or the need to adapt to a changing environment, as suggested by their teacher and textbooks.

Conceptions about the origin of species in Italian children who have, and have not, been taught about the topic

BERTI, ANNA EMILIA;
2010

Abstract

Investigations of people’s understanding of the evolution of species have focused mainly on secondary school and university students. Very few investigations have taken into consideration younger students, and none have related children’s ideas about the origin of species to formal instruction on this topic. To help fill this gap, the present study examines the effect of this instruction in elementary school children by comparing Italian second graders (n = 21; age = 7 years, 1 month, to 8 years, 7 months) with third graders (n = 18; age = 8 years, 1 month, to 9 years, 4 months) who had been taught about “the earth before humans” for several months in keeping with the Italian National Syllabus for this grade level. Semistructured interviews were used to examine children’s thoughts about speciation. The majority of second graders used a creationist framework, whereas most third graders used a mixed framework (referring to both creation and evolution) or an evolutionary framework. However, children did not know about the mechanism of evolution and considered it to be the result of the passage of time, the use and disuse of body parts, or the need to adapt to a changing environment, as suggested by their teacher and textbooks.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11577/2422745
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