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Science competencies in kindergarten: a prospective study in the last year of kindergarten

  • Science competencies are considered an important 21st century skill. How this skill develops in childhood is, however, not well understood, and in particular little is known about how different aspects of science competencies are related. In this prospective study with 58 children aged 5–6 years, we investigate the development of two aspects of science competence: scientific thinking and science content knowledge. Scientific thinking was assessed with a comprehensive 30-item instrument; science content knowledge was measured with an 18-item instrument that assesses children’s knowledge with regard to melting and evaporation. The results revealed basic competencies in scientific thinking and science content knowledge at the end of kindergarten (46% and 49% correct, respectively, both different from chance). In mid-kindergarten, children performed better than chance on the assessment of science content knowledge (40% correct) but not on the assessment of scientific thinking (34% correct). Science content knowledge in mid-kindergarten predicted children’s science content knowledge at the end of kindergarten, as well as scientific thinking (both at 6 years). The opposite pattern did not hold: scientific thinking in mid-kindergarten did not predict science content knowledge at the end of kindergarten. Our findings show initial science competencies during kindergarten, and they suggest that children’s science content knowledge and scientific thinking are interrelated in a meaningful way. These results are discussed with respect to the different hypotheses that connect scientific thinking and science content knowledge as key features of science competencies. Implications for research and teaching are discussed.

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Author:Susanne Koerber, Christopher Osterhaus
Parent Title (English):Unterrichtswissenschaft
Publisher:Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden
Document Type:Article
Date of first Publication:2021/03/01
Release Date:2023/05/25
Tag:Kindergarten; Naturwissenschaftliches Inhaltswissen; Physics knowledge; Physikverständnis; Science competencies; Science content knowledge; Scientific thinking; Wissenschaftliche Kompetenzen; Wissenschaftliches Denken
GND Keyword:-
First Page:117
Last Page:136
Open Access:Frei zugänglich
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY - Namensnennung 4.0 International