The influence of early science experience in kindergarten on children's immediate and later science achievement: Evidence from the early childhood longitudinal study

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  • This article was published online 3 November 2010. Subsequently, it was determined that erroneous figures had been published. The figures were replaced and the correction was published on 10 May 2011.

Abstract

This study explores the impacts of selected early science experiences in kindergarten (frequency and duration of teachers' teaching of science, availability of sand/water table and science areas, and children's participation in cooking and science equipment activities) on children's science achievement in kindergarten and third grade using data for 8,642 children from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten cohort (ECLS-K). A theoretical model that depicts the relationships between the study variables was developed and tested using structural equation modeling. Results demonstrated that availability of science materials in kindergarten classrooms facilitated teachers' teaching of science and children's participation in science activities. Likewise, the frequency and the duration of kindergarten science teaching was a significant predictor of children's science activities but not of the children's end of kindergarten science achievement scores. Children's engagement with science activities that involved using science equipment also was not a significant predictor of their end of kindergarten science achievement. However, children's participation in cooking activities was. Children's prior knowledge, motivation, socio-economic status, and gender were all statistically significant predictors of their science achievement at the end of kindergarten and end of third grade. Results of this study indicate that early science experiences provided in kindergarten are not strong predictors of children's immediate and later science achievement. Findings of the study suggest that the limited time and nature of science instruction might be related to the limited effect of the science experiences. Implications for teacher education programs and educational policy development are discussed. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 48: 217–235, 2011

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