South African Journal of Education

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Prospective early childhood teachers’ difficulties in analysing children’s ideas about the natural and social environment

María Puig Gutiérrez, Marta Cruz-Guzmán, Fátima Rodríguez-Marín


This study deals with detecting the difficulties that prospective teachers encounter in recognising and analysing children’s ideas in the domains of social studies and science. It qualitatively analyses the reports written by 94 third-year Early Childhood Education degree students, while they were taking courses on “Teaching the natural environment to age groups of 0 to 6 Years” and “Knowledge of the Social Environment.” The results show that the titles prospective teachers use for their proposals titles do not arouse the children’s interest, even when they are not being taken literally from the limited Spanish curriculum. Nevertheless, they demonstrate a great capacity for adapting to the children in terms of the language used in the instruments designed to detect the children’s ideas. The greatest obstacle they find is in the analysis of the children’s ideas, especially in the process of categorising the responses. Further work with prospective teachers is therefore necessary to provide them with experience of direct contact with children, and to accompany them in the detection and analysis of the children’s ideas.

Keywords: children’s ideas; curriculum; early childhood education; educational investigation; learning; prospective early childhood teachers; scientific field; social studies domain; teacher training; teaching

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