Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Date of Defense

12-11-2012

Graduate Advisor

Carole H. Murphy, EdD

Committee

Phyllis A. Balcerzak, Ph.D.

Joseph L. Polman, Ph.D.

Alina Slapac, Ed.D.

Abstract

Despite the copious research available on science learning, little is known about ways in which the public engages in free-choice science learning and even fewer studies have focused on how families engage in science to learn about the world around them. The same was true about studies of literacy development in the home until the 1980s when researchers (e.g. Bissex, 1980; Heath, 1983; Taylor, 1983) began documenting the literacy happenings and practices of young children in natural settings. Findings from intensive emergent literacy research studies have challenged traditional approaches to the teaching and learning of literacy, especially drawing attention to the active role children take in their own learning. Drawing upon those early literacy studies, this research project uses ethnographic case study methods, along with a naturalistic inquiry approach, to document the daily explorations of one science-oriented family. Over a three year span, I followed my own family, in our natural setting, through our day-to-day experiences with science and literacy as we seek to mediate and understand the world around us. In doing so, I explored the ways we shared knowledge and constructed learning through science books and read alouds, self-initiated inquiry learning, and communication. Throughout the three year research period, I collected data and documented my own young children’s understanding of the nature of science by observing their engagement with the world around them.

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Education Commons

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