What is the task about? Exploring the issues discussed by preschool children in engineering activities at kindergarten

Convertini, Josephine (2020) What is the task about? Exploring the issues discussed by preschool children in engineering activities at kindergarten. Review of Science, Mathematics and ICT Education, 14 (2). (In Press)

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Abstract

Problem solving tasks are one of the topics of investigation within the field of STEM and educational engineering involving children. However, young children have received less attention. Accordingly, this paper explores the issues discussed by preschool children during engineering activities. We focus on the issues participants discuss during three building problem solving proposed to preschool children at a kindergarten. The activities were audio-video recorded and the argumentative discussions were identified and transcribed. The argumentative analysis focused on different elements, such as the issues occurring in each argumentative episode, the standpoints, the arguments, and the argumentative structure. In particular, to explore the issues and their role in problem solving activities, three illustrative cases are presented. The findings show, from an argumentative perspective, a variety of issues explored by children in solving problems around building tasks. The task presented by the adult as a building activity represents something more for the participant children: for example, the children focus on the technical components to overcome possible obstacles, they refer to the collaboration with peers, to the possession of objects or to the meaning and utility of the working activities. As preschool children’s engineering work appears as a complex activity, the present study highlights the value of analyzing the issues that are discussed by preschool children during building activities.

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