Original Research

The notions of floating and sinking: Exploring the conceptual knowledge of Grade R teachers

Mamontsuoe J.L. Maraisane, Loyiso C. Jita, Thuthukile Jita
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 14, No 1 | a1407 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v14i1.1407 | © 2024 Mamontsuoe J.L. Maraisane, Loyiso C. Jita, Thuthukile Jita | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 July 2023 | Published: 31 January 2024

About the author(s)

Mamontsuoe J.L. Maraisane, Department of Childhood Education, Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Loyiso C. Jita, The Office of the Dean, Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Thuthukile Jita, Department of Curriculum Studies in Higher Education, Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Preschool teachers play a key role in early scientific education, and their understanding and ability to communicate scientific concepts are crucial. Researchers have extensively studied their grasp of basic scientific concepts, but their understanding of important concepts related to buoyancy, such as floating and sinking, remains relatively underexplored at this level.

Aim: This study sought to investigate Grade R teachers’ understanding of buoyancy principles by focusing on the concepts of floating and sinking.

Setting: The study was conducted in Maseru, Lesotho with four Grade R teachers in their schools.

Methods: This study employed a qualitative research approach characterised by a case-study design within an interpretive paradigm. Thematic data analysis was used, drawing from semi-structured interviews with four purposefully selected Grade R teachers.

Results: The study found that Grade R teachers have a partial grasp of floating and sinking concepts. While they can describe these principles at a basic level, their ability to explain the reasons behind objects floating or sinking is limited.

Conclusion: The incomplete understanding of the floating and sinking concepts among Grade R teachers could negatively impact students’ knowledge of science. Therefore, it is advisable to implement an in-service science content-focused programme to empower and equip teachers with the necessary knowledge and skills.

Contribution: This study contributes to the limited literature on understanding basic scientific concepts such as floating and sinking in early childhood education. Neglecting these concepts may impede students’ learning if not properly addressed.


Keywords

content knowledge; early childhood; floating and sinking concepts; Foundation Phase; Grade R teacher; science learning; teachers’ knowledge

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 4: Quality education

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