Are preschoolers expected to learn difficult science constructs? A content analysis of U.S. standards
Keywords:Early science learning, Readiness standards, Educational policy, Abstract reasoning, Content analysis
In the current paper, we report on the recommendations for preschool science put forward in the educational standards of U.S. states. Our focus was specifically on whether educational standards recommend abstract science constructs—constructs that are difficult to learn. In Study 1, we focused on science constructs related to inquiry (i.e., activities geared towards the generation of scientific knowledge). And in Study 2, we focused on science constructs related to facts (i.e., established scientific knowledge). In each study, we developed a coding scheme to distinguish between concrete and abstract constructs and then determined the relative prevalence of each. Our findings show that preschoolers are indeed expected to learn abstract science constructs. At the same time, educational standards varied considerably across U.S. states. Implications for the field of early science learning are discussed.
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