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Abstract

The purpose of this research was to determine whether the young child's understanding of physical causality is affected by school science instruction. Sixty-four subjects, four and one-half through seven years of age, received 300 min of instruction designed to affect the subject's conception of causality as reflected in animism and dynamism. Instruction took place for 30 min per day on ten successive school days. Pretesting was done to allow a stratified random sample to be based on vocabulary level and developmental stage as well as on age and gender. Post-testing consisted of testing of developmental level and level within the causal relations of animism and dynamism. Significant differences (1.05 level) were found between the experimental and control groups for animism. Within the experimental group, males differed significantly (1.001 level) from females. The elimination of animism appeared to have occurred. For dynamism, significant differences (0.05 level) were found only between concrete operational subjects in the experimental and control groups, indicating a concrete level of operations was necessary if dynamism was to be affected. However, a review of interview protocols indicated that subjects classified as nonanimistic had learned to apply a definition rather than to think in a nonanimistic manner.