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Introducing Basic Concepts: In Search of the Missing Scaffolds 949
PhD in Psychology, Professor, Leading Research Fellow, Psychological Institute of the Russian Academy of Education, Moscow, Russia
Research Fellow, Psychological Institute of the Russian Academy of Education, Moscow, Russia
Deputy Head, Center for Assessment of Quality in Education, Krasnoyarsk, Russia
Elementary school teacher, Moscow State School No. 91, Moscow, Russia
What are the conditions for the intersection and mutual enrichment of two separate lines of development of conceptual thinking – those of everyday and scientific notions? We assume that such intersection would require at least two conditions. The first one is well known: it is modeling of essential properties of the subject under study. Educational models are providing hand-on actions of the young student with a theoretical content of the notion. The second condition is the motivational support for constructing educational models. This condition is not fulfilled as evidenced by the lack of students’ initiative in creating and using the educational models at the early stages of the introduction of scientific concepts. We expected the conceptual characters of educational games to complement scaffolding for bringing the initial concepts into the systematic school curricula?. On the one hand, these conceptual characters act according to the logic of the concept, on the other hand, they exist as the fairy-tale heroes. Our hypothesis is supported by the evidence from the formative experiments in grade one. When the conceptual characters became part of the lessons, learning became impregnated with feelings, imagination and initiative; in particular, the first-graders were building the learning models without any suggestions from their teacher. The assessment of these students showed that the introduction of the initial concepts with the help of conceptual characters significantly affected the very concepts thus developed; in particular, it promoted their attribution to the essential properties of the subject under study.
Keywords: everyday and scientific concepts, introducing basic concepts of regular academic courses,
motivational and meaning-oriented scaffolds of modelling, concept/play characters, learning initiative
measuring conceptual relation to subject matter
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