Changes in Primary School Pupils' Conceptions of Water in the Context of Science, Technology, and Society (STS) Instruction
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CitationHavu-Nuutinen S. Kärkkäinen S. Keinonen T. (2017). Changes in Primary School Pupils' Conceptions of Water in the Context of Science, Technology, and Society (STS) Instruction. International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, Published online: 24 Apr 2017, 10.1080/10382046.2017.1320897.
Pupils' conceptual change processes that have led to long-term changes in learning processes can be very challenging and interwoven with several issues. Meanwhile, school learning is often determined as fragmented, without providing connections to pupils' different life and societal contexts. In this study, Science, Technology, and Society (STS) instruction was conducted to enhance primary school pupils' conceptual change process with water-related concepts. Pupils (N = 41) studied water over four-week period and considered water-related concepts and phenomena in scientific, societal, and technological contexts. Before and after STS instruction, the pupils wrote the essays and based on an analysis of the essays, 10 pupils were selected for interviews. Prior the STS instruction, the pupils' conceptions of water were descriptive and were situated in regard to their everyday lives, and pupils considered their water-use subjectively. Pupils rarely were able to explain the relationships between the concepts or phenomena. After the STS instruction, the scientific explanations increased, and water was understood more globally, and different issues such as water states and water circulation were linked to each other. In this study, the pupils' conceptual change process mainly occurred as a reorganisation of conceptual hierarchies but also included some insights for the higher level changes. In addition, learning contexts seem to have crucial roles for the changes. The learning contexts supported the pupils to consider water as broad, interlinked phenomena. STS instruction dared the pupils to consider water phenomenon as a global issue.