Posted: August 6th, 2015

This is a report based on an active interview with young children to determine their existing understandings of science or the natural environmental. This assignment is an individual task working with 2-3 children ages 5 and below.

This is a report based on an active interview with young children to determine their existing understandings of science or the natural environmental. This assignment is an individual task working with 2-3 children ages 5 and below.

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This is a report based on an active interview with young children to determine their existing understandings of science or the natural environmental. This assignment is an individual task working with 2-3 children. The planning, data collection, and writing of the report is to be done individually.

This assignment is based on explorations you will carry out when working with children during a small group session. During this session, you will provide the children with a range of science experiences, such as an exploration table or specific experience. As a part of this, you will explore questioning strategies that probe children’s understandings and provide you with insight into their science understandings.

Choose a science air, plants, small animals

Identify and list the concepts that you are probing. 1-2 concepts are enough to attempt. Be very specific about the concepts.

Select the activities (1-2) and approaches that you will use to probe young children’ understandings of these concepts.

Prepare a variety of question types that you will use in your probing. (see Categorising sheet online)

The conceptual understandings you focus on, and the probe activities, may be selected from ‘Ideas for Teaching Science: Years P-8’ (Hubber and Tytler, 2005 – available on the website mentioned previously) and adapted for pre-school children. These references provide rich tasks to engage and sustain children’s conceptual development.

The activities should focus on a substantial conceptual understanding of one particular topic of science. Use the lesson plan for probing template provided to help focus your planning. This is on CLOUDDEAKIN in the Assessment folder.

You should experiment with different types of activities, for instance a Predict-Observe-Explain activity, or a concept map, a role play, drawings or a written narrative. It is important that you choose a topic for which recommended probes are available. The probes you choose must provide for substantial exploration of the children’s ideas using a play or activity based strategy.

As you undertake the activities with the children you will ask pre-planned questions. Construct questions for your probing activities, taking care to ask challenging questions as indicated by the Categorising Questions sheet. For example, within the topic of ‘floating and sinking’, one may ask questions like:

Does cork float? (this is a closed, subject-centred question).

What do you think will happen if I place this piece of cork on top of the water surface? (this is a productive, person-centred question).

However, be prepared to ask follow up questions on the basis of the children’s responses as they may give you further insight into their thinking.


A range of resources is available on CLOUDDEAKIN. This includes:

Probes of understandings provides a discussion of probes in general as well as examples of probe activities, and their underlying conceptions.

Categorizing Questions DET.

Lesson Plan for Probing.

NOTE – If your kinder will not allow you to set something up for children’s exploration, you can move into children’s own natural play as they explore plants, small animals, properties of material, structures etc. This is much more difficult as you cannot really pre-pan specific questions. However, you can pre-plan ‘types’ of questions – eg “what do you think will happen…. (add the rest of the sentence)?”

The Report Probing Children’s understandings.

(Parts A & B) (~1200 +~600= ~1800 words includes appendices)

A report is a formal piece of writing which contains a description of the context, data provided in the appendices, analysis of data and judgements in the report. It should be structured with subheadings, be clearly written and stay close to the word limit

Part A Written component – Probing Children’s Understandings (~1200 words):

List the concepts that were probed, each activity that was used to investigate each concept, and the method (e.g. POE, Interview-about-events) used to probe children’s understandings. This can be presented in a table.

Describe the children’s understandings of the concepts: This will require you to highlight the evidence of learning, analyse it with reference to the concept(s) and finally make a judgement of each child’s learning.

make explicit reference to the data (ie children’s verbal or written responses, drawings, actions etc.) which are found in the appendix.

identify alternative conceptions

Categorise the pre-planned and follow-up questions according to the types in the sheet “Categorizing Questions”.

Evaluate how effective the questioning was by referring to the different question types and whether the responses of the children gave you the information you were seeking.

Were some question types used more frequently or were more informative than others?

Part B Written component – The Effectiveness and Implications of Probing Children’s Understandings (~600 words)

Discuss how effective the probe activities were for determining children’s ideas in science.

Discuss how would you use these findings in activities that might follow from this probe session.

Why is it important to probe children’s understandings?

Besides your experience, you should also draw on research literature in discussing how you would deal with children’s prior knowledge. Your strategies and activities should support young children to engage with science, and should link with the research literature on children’s learning in science

Append the probe activities data that includes:

A lesson plan (using the template mentioned above) that includes a description of the activities, a list of the concepts that were probed and a description of how they relate to the activities

Children’s written work, drawings and oral comments which you record at the time of the investigations (use a tape recorder if allowed.) or your professional journal

Note: Please use the format above in setting out your assignment. That is, Part A and Part B, and discuss each of the dot-points under each of the subheadings above.


What the Assessor will be looking for when marking this assignment


Part A Probing Children’s Understandings

Description of the context. Eg How children were exploring or playing during the probe session


Identification of the science concepts and appropriateness of the methods by which children’s understandings are probed (this includes the concepts and activities, and questioning)


Discussion on children’s understandings from the probe activities. This includes how well you were able to illustrate children’s conceptual development.


Categorization of question types and an evaluation of your questioning including suggestions for improvement


Part B The Effectiveness and Implications of Probing Children’s Understandings

Evaluation of the probe activities for exploring children’s understandings effectively. For example, did the activities engage children so you could learn from them?


Depth of discussion on how would you use these findings in future teaching, drawing on the literature into children’s science understandings.


Marks attributed to good presentation: correct spelling, grammar, proper referencing as required by a Masters’ level student.


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