A Study to Determine the Mental Models in Preschool Children’s Conceptualization of a Desert Environment


Berat AHİ


Abstract

This study aimed to determine mental models and identify codes (schemes) used in conceptualizing a desert environment. The sample for this study consisted of 184 – out of a total population of 3,630 - children in preschool education in the central district of Kastamonu, Turkey. Within the scope of this study, the children were initially asked to draw a desert-themed picture, followed by a semi-structured interview to seek their opinions about the drawing and clarify what a desert environment meant to them. According to the findings, the children referred to 38 different codes relevant to the conceptualization of a desert environment; the most frequently used were the sun (f= 160, 86.9%), sand (f= 100, 54.3%), cacti (f= 74, 35.3%) and camels (f= 52, 28.6%). During the interview phase, 33 children described a desert as a place where there is no life, although a significant number of the children (f= 65, 39.1%) did describe a desert as a place where plants and animals live. Moreover, the sun and its rays were disproportionately bigger in size, in order to emphasize the excessive heat associated with the specific ecosystem found in a desert environment; to reinforce this, humans drenched in sweat, the absence of trees and the prevalence of cacti and exotic wildlife, including camels, scorpions and lizards, were all features of the children’s drawings. Based on these findings, it was inferred that the mental models in some of the children (f= 72, 39.1%) were scientifically informed, with a degree of accuracy, about a desert environment. On the basis of the findings, it is considered that determining mental models in children in relation to different ecological concepts can be beneficial to teachers and curriculum programmers involved in environmental education.


Keywords

Desert, Mental model, Draw and explain, Child, Ecological concept

Paper Details

Paper Details
Topic Early Childhood Education
Pages 333 - 350
Issue IEJEE, Volume 8, Issue 3
Date of acceptance 17 January 2016
Read (times) 602
Downloaded (times) 450

Author(s) Details

Berat AHİ

Kastamonu University, Turkey


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