Portuguese students' perceptions of science and scientists A case study in a Ciência Viva school
Ana Santos-Carvalho – University of Coimbra, Institute for Interdisciplinary Research & CNC -Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, . Portugal
Denise Esteves – Centre for Social Estudies & Institute for Interdisciplinar Research, University of Coimbra Portugal
The main goal of this paper is to report the preliminary results of a qualitative study on the representations of Science of 60 children between 8-11 years old (K1 - K4), in order to better understand what are the perceptions of these Portuguese students about science, and in what ways do they represent themselves as little scientists.
Methodologically, we have used a modified version of the DAST-C test (Draw-a-Scientist Test Checklist), as well as the children's description of their own drawings. This study was carried out throughout the evaluation process of the Advanced Courses of Experimental Sciences (ACES) that was carried out by the Institute of Education and Citizenship (IEC). We have made a quantitative and qualitative analysis of children’s draws. In agreement with other national and international studies on this field, the results of this study show that students represent a stereotyped image of science and themselves as scientists. Those images are influenced by experiences inside and outside school. As revealed by other studies the impact of teachers and textbooks has shaped what a scientist should look like and how scientists should behave in the laboratory. In this regard, scientists are drawn in lab coats, indoors, working by themselves, and surrounded by symbols of secrecy and mysticism.
We propose that the studied science courses must include elements, practices, and contexts that may encourage children to deconstruct the role and the profile of scientists in society, such as implementing more collaborative practices inside the laboratory; broadening the profile of the scientist (e.g. social scientists); expanding the scientific plateau towards outside the laboratory. We believe that only a deep understanding of this topic will enable teachers, researchers, parents, and policymakers to develop tools to support children and young people to take a disruptive and critical scientific role in Portugal.
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