A STUDY OF TAIWANESE CHILDREN'S CONCEPTIONS OF AND RELATION TO NATURE: CURRICULAR AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS
Dai, Amy Hsin-I
McGinnis, James R
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The present study investigated children's conceptions of and relations to nature. Understanding the factors that influence them was the goal. The study used the Contextual Model of Learning as the theoretical framework to structure the research questions and data analysis to understand children's nature learning in the personal, sociocultural, and physical contexts that change over time. Twelve children aged 5 and 6 were prompted to draw a picture of themselves in nature. They were interviewed about the sources of those ideas and living experiences, and if they thought photographs of scenery were nature. These twelve children's parents also participated in a survey to study the family influence. I used interpretational analysis to seek for common patterns and themes. Scoring rubrics, coaxial comparison, constant comparison, and the theoretical framework were used to triangulate and investigate influential factors of children's ideas of nature. The study showed that children at this age already had developed a basic conception of what is nature, but also need to learn about the role of human beings in nature and the interrelations of nature in order to develop environmental education ideas. Most children also had a positive feeling toward nature. Children's definitions of nature were developed mainly from what parents and grandparents had told them and their firsthand exposure to nature. Only during the weekend did the children's families have time to visit nature. It was found that most parents in this study stated that they were inspired by nature and were very willing to take their children to nature settings. The most visited natural places that were reported visited were parks in the city and the mountains surrounding the city. However, very often parents missed teachable opportunities to make the experiences with nature meaningful to children. Implications of the study apply to curriculum designers, educators, urban planners, and parents. It is recommended that teachers and schools develop their school-based curriculum so that children may learn about nature from their surrounding environments. Urban designers should consider providing easier access to green space in the city. Finally, it is recommended that parents not miss the opportunity to make family visits to nature meaningful science education learning opportunities.