A process approach to children's understanding of scientific concepts: a longitudinal case study

Henderien Steenbeek, Steffie van der Steen, Marijn van Dijk, Paul van Geert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Using a longitudinal study on childrens’ understanding of scientific concepts, we compare the relative importance of general (e.g., standardized test scores) and microgenetic measures (interaction patterns) to characterize the development of scientific understanding over 1.5 years. A researcher worked five times with 31 children (3-5 years old, from regular and special primary schools) on scientific tasks about air pressure and gravity. The researchers scaffolding behavior and the childs understanding were coded per utterance. Furthermore, children’s standardized test scores (math and language) and information on their home environment were obtained. A cluster analysis yielded three distinct developmental trajectories, which could best be predicted by interactions between the child and the environment. In the discussion we question the validity of standardized tests
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-91
JournalLearning and individual differences
Issue numberFebruary
Publication statusPublished - 2014



  • children
  • science
  • complexity approach
  • microdevelopment

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