Cognitive Structures of Elementary School Students: What is Science?
The aim of this study is to examine the change in the cognitive structures of elementary school students in respect to
the concept of science through word association test in a constructivist approach based project. The study was
conducted with 50 students attending to 6th and 7th grades. Students were applied a 90-minute activity in scope of the
training on science, scientist and scientific knowledge under the project that lasted for 5 days. A word association
test that included the concepts of science, scientific knowledge, scientific method, scientist, research, project,
experiment and laboratory was applied at the beginning (pre-test) and at the end (post-test) of the project. A
frequency table, which consists of concepts of word association test and response words, were prepared in data
analysis. According to the obtained frequency table, concept networks that revealed the cognitive structures of
students were drawn. Upon reviewing the frequency table of the pre-test and post-test of students, and the concept
networks, it was observed that the cognitive structures in the relevant concepts of students changed positively.
Accordingly, it was concluded that word association tests prove an effective method for revealing the cognitive
structures of students. Study findings were discussed in comparison with the studies in the literature, and
recommendations were given.
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