Students' Ideas About Animals: Results from a National Study—Elementary teachers respond to a study involving students’ perceptions of animalsby: Charles R. Barman, Natalie S. Barman, Mary Lou Cox, Kay Berglund Newhouse, and M. Jenice Goldston

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In the fall of 1999, Science and Children extended an invitation to K–8 teachers to participate in a national study (Barman, Barman, Berglund, and Goldston, 1999). The main focus of this study was to examine students’ ideas about animals. This study received an overwhelming response from K–8 teachers throughout the United States. This article will briefly explain how the data was collected, present the findings, and discuss the implications of these results for K–8 science teaching.

  • Elementary
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Reviews (3)
  • on Sat Apr 02, 2016 1:27 PM

This article is very enlightening. Most teachers think they know what their students know before they begin a lesson. What i found very interesting in this article is that not all teachers do know about their students. In this article it talks about how many students don't know what things classify as an animal. They also don't know why they do or do not classify as an animal. I think this huge misconception can be stopped much sooner. I also found it interesting how trade books can be confusing or misleading to some students when it comes to animals. It is important to pick out quality books that accurately represent what you want your students to know.

Kaylee Buck
Kaylee Buck

  • on Fri Aug 22, 2014 12:46 PM

This student was generated because many trade books do not use the correct terms for animals. Only vertebrates are often referred to as animals. Insects and snakes are sometimes referred to as critters and lots of textbooks fail to define an organism. All of these lead to student misconceptions about animals. Reading the results of this study provide an interesting look at what students think. This article is well worth reading and it might help elementary teachers present the concept of animals more correctly to eliminate some of the misconceptions.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Wed Jun 22, 2011 10:11 PM

The magazine invited elementary teachers to participate in a study to determine young students’ views on animals. 180 respondents contributed data on over 2000 children. The study noticed a lack of any definition for ‘animal’ in resources used by the younger students. Many misunderstandings about animals were uncovered as well as the misconception that humans are not part of the animal kingdom. The study concluded that teachers should not make any assumptions about what their students know. Teachers interested in the study results on how students perceive animals will find this article useful to read before they plan a unit on animals.

Carolyn M  (Buffalo Grove, IL)
Carolyn M (Buffalo Grove, IL)

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