Building a model of the environment: how do children see plants?

September 1st, 2000 | RESEARCH

In order to name and classify a plant they see, children use their existing mental models to provide the plant with a name and classification. In this study pupils of a range of ages (5, 8, 10, and 14 years old) were presented with preserved specimens of six different plants (strictly, five plants and a fungus) and asked a series of questions about them. Their responses indicate that pupils of all ages mainly recognise and use anatomical features when naming the plants and explaining why they are what they are. However, older pupils are more likely to also use habitat features. For both girls and boys, the home and direct observation are more important sources of knowledge than school, TV, videos, CD-Roms, or books, although TV, videos, CD-Roms, and books seem more important for boys than for girls. As pupils age, their reasons for grouping plants become more complicated: in addition to relying on shared anatomical and habitat features, they begin to show evidence of a knowledge of taxonomy and use this knowledge to group plants.


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Team Members

Sue Dale Tunnicliffe, Author, Homerton College
Michael Reiss, Author, Homerton College


Identifier Type: issn
Identifier: 0021-9266

Publication: Journal of Biological Education
Volume: 34
Number: 4
Page(s): 172

Related URLs

EBSCO Full Text


Audience: Educators | Teachers | Elementary School Children (6-10) | Middle School Children (11-13) | Museum | ISE Professionals | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Ecology | forestry | agriculture | Education and learning science | Life science
Resource Type: Peer-reviewed article | Research Products
Environment Type: Media and Technology | Public Programs