Analysing young children’s thinking about natural phenomena: A sociocultural/cultural historical perspective



Vygotsky’s sociocultural/cultural historical theory emphasised the notion of semiotic mediation – or how thinking is transformed through signs (such as language) and cultural tools (such as drawings) from an intermental to an intramental plane. While the ideas of Vygotsky have become well-accepted within research in early childhood education in Australia, they are somewhat slower to be adopted within science education research. Yet they offer the potential for gaining new understandings of how young children’s thinking about the world develops. This article will demonstrate one way in which aspects of Vygotsky’s (1987-1999) work, particularly his ideas about semiotic mediation can inform analysis of children’s thinking about the world. Focusing on conversations with children about natural phenomena, and drawings they completed during those conversations, the analysis identifies a number of significant issues that are not normally revealed within the dominant forms of analysis which draw on constructivist perspectives. The findings, which reveal complex and dynamic aspects of children’s thinking, have implications for both teachers and researchers working with young children – especially within science education and science education research.


Young children’s thinking, sociocultural/cultural-historical theory, methodology, early childhood science

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Re S M ICT E | ISSN: 1792-3999 (electronic), 1791-261X (print) | Laboratory of Didactics of Sciences, Mathematics and ICT, Department of Educational Sciences and Early Childhood Education - University of Patras.

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