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Understanding the Natural World: The Significance of Methodology and Context
Economic and Social Research Council This research project aims to determine how the understandings of young people have of certain objects within the environment depend on the physical setting in which their understandings are probed. Our interest is primarily methodological and is partly inspired by the late Professor Ros Driver who, very shortly before her death, encouraged Sue Dale Tunnicliffe to carry out work in this area. Questions about components of the environment will be asked both of the same and of different individuals in a range of settings and using a variety of probes. These questions will generally be of the form 'What do you know about X?' where X will be such things as 'ponds', 'trees', and 'pigeons'. We will work with both primary and secondary students in such settings as schools, museums, botanic gardens and zoos. We will use oral questions, drawings, photographs and actual objects as probes. We intend the findings to be of value to a wide range of audiences interested in gaining access to subjects' understandings about objects and processes including designers of exhibits for botanic gardens, museums and zoos, academic researchers and curriculum developers.
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