‘A planet of confusion and debate’: children's and young people's response to the news coverage of Pluto's loss of planetary status

Ruth Jarman, Billy McClune

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Despite calls that the school science curriculum should develop among students an ability to understand and respond critically to science-related media reports, very little research has been directed toward an important matter relevant to that aim, namely, how children and young people, untutored, react to science in the news. This study sought, in the context of media coverage of the debate surrounding the planetary status of Pluto, to explore this issue. A questionnaire, completed by 350 students aged between eight and 18, showed just over half of the children and young people were able to write relevantly about the subject though it was the gist not the detail of the story they recounted. There was evidence, nonetheless, that this media-acquired information functioned as active rather than passive knowledge. Students demonstrated relatively few misconceptions and those presented were predominately pre-existing rather than media-derived. As with the wider public, many of the children and young people held strong opinions on Pluto's loss of planethood. Such responses diminished with age, however, with older students expressing a degree of indifference. The paper concludes with a discussion of some implications of the research findings for science instruction.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)309-325
    Number of pages17
    JournalResearch in Science and Technological Education
    Volume27
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009

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