ArticlePDF Available

Abstract and Figures

This article reports the results of an analysis of 1676 science and technology questions submitted by Israeli children to a series of television programmes. It categorizes the children's questions with reference to five different coding schemes: field of interest, motivation for asking the question, type of information requested, country-specific aspects, and source of information. The results point to the popularity of biology, technology, and astrophysics over other sciences, indicate a shift in interests and motivation with age, and reflect a variety of gender-related differences within the sample. The implications of the findings for some current trends in curriculum development and for informal science education are discussed with reference to the wider context of the pupils' voice in education.
Content may be subject to copyright.
International Journal of Science Education
Vol 27, No. 7, 3 June 2005, pp. 803–826
ISSN 0950-0693 (print)/ISSN 1464-5289 (online)/05/070803–24
© 2005 Taylor & Francis Group Ltd
DOI 10.1080/09500690500038389
Characterizing children’s spontaneous
interests in science and technology
Ayelet Baram-Tsabari and Anat Yarden*
Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
Taylor and Francis LtdTSED103821.sgm10.1080/09500690500038389International Journal of Science Education0950-0693 (print)/1464-5289 (online)Original Article2005Taylor & Francis Group Ltd27
000000002005AnatYardenDepartment of Science TeachingWeizmann Institute of ScienceRehovot 76100PO Box 26Israel972 8 9343793972 8
This article reports the results of an analysis of 1676 science and technology questions submitted
by Israeli children to a series of television programmes. It categorizes the children’s questions with
reference to five different coding schemes: field of interest, motivation for asking the question, type
of information requested, country-specific aspects, and source of information. The results point to
the popularity of biology, technology, and astrophysics over other sciences, indicate a shift in interests
and motivation with age, and reflect a variety of gender-related differences within the sample. The
implications of the findings for some current trends in curriculum development and for informal
science education are discussed with reference to the wider context of the pupils’ voice in education.
The work presented here belongs in the context of the recently expanding research
on the pupils’ voice in education (Burke & Grosvenor, 2003, Economic and Social
Research Council, 2004). Lloyd-Smith and Tarr (2000) called for the systems of
education, as front-line providers for children, to model for other professionals a real
process of acknowledging and valuing young people’s views and opinions. Likewise,
Rudduck and Flutter (2000) regard it as strange that, in a climate that privileges the
consumer, pupils in school have not been considered as consumers worth consulting.
Within the science education literature, the principal reason for accommodating
pupils’ experiences and views seems to be far more immediate and direct; namely,
the need to counter the declining interest that young people have in pursuing scien-
tific careers. Osborne et al. (2003), for example, encourage researchers to identify
those aspects of science teaching likely to make school science more attractive to
pupils. Research into students’ interests is also being conducted in the light of the
relationship between students’ interests and attitudes and the effective learning of
*Corresponding author. Department of Science Teaching, Weizmann Institute of Science,
Rehorot, PO Box 26, Israel. Email:
804 A. Baram-Tsabari and A. Yarden
new scientific knowledge (Dawson, 2000). Such research is guided by the notion
that an interested student will be prepared to expend the effort required to learn and
understand new concepts (Osborne et al., 2002). Some limitations of this notion are
discussed in the following.
A number of studies have previously explored students’ scientific interests in the
context of school curricula. Among high-school students in Northern Ireland, science
subjects and mathematics were perceived as offering the least interest (Watson et al.,
1994). Among the sciences, biology was well received in England (Murray & Reiss,
2003; Osborne & Collins, 2000; Qualter, 1993) and Australia (Dawson, 2000), even
more so among girls. Spall et al. (2004) suggest that students enter secondary school-
ing with an equal liking to biology and physics, but over the course of their studies
they feel less positive about physics than biology. Stark and Gray (1999) draw a
different picture—in their study of Scottish students, boys’ preferences for science
topics shifted from biologically oriented topics to physics as the age of the pupils in
the sample increased, while girls’ preference for biological topics remained high
through all age groups. In a multi-national study asking children what they wish to
‘learn more about’, the ‘possibility of life outside earth’ was the most popular topic
among 13-year-old students from 21 countries (Sjøberg, 2000a, 2000b).
These attempts to identify pupils’ preferences for topics in science have been
conducted using tick boxes or Likert-type scales. This approach has been used with
large numbers of students in Scotland (Stark & Gray, 1999), Australia (Dawson,
2000), Britain (Qualter, 1993; Taber, 1991) and in international studies such as
ROSE (Sjøberg & Schreiner, 2002) and the Scientists and Society (SAS) project
(Sjøberg, 2000b). Osborne and Collins (2001) have used focus groups to determine
those aspects of science that pupils and parents value and use in their everyday life,
whereas yet another methodology, involving an online response to questions,
underpinned a student-led survey of the science curriculum in England (Murray &
Reiss, 2003).
In contrast, the present study does not involve inviting students to respond to a
series of prepared questions or topics. Instead, the approach is naturalistic. The data
consist of science and technology-related questions submitted by Israeli children to a
series of television programmes. Arguably, self-generated questions not only indicate
the questioners’ depth of thinking (Chin et al., 2002) and their reasoning, but also
their misconceptions/alternative views and interests (Biddulph et al., 1986). Also,
Dillon (1988) indicated that it is difficult for investigators to identify many student
questions in the classroom or laboratory, even though the students might be raising
them in their own minds or asking their friends.
The sample
Lechu hapsu’ (roughly translated as ‘Go and find out’) is an Israeli television
programme for children, broadcast 11 times weekly on ‘Logi’, a cable channel
Characterizing Childrens’ Spontaneous Interests 805
available upon subscription. Four of the 11 programmes are broadcast live. Each
might be described as a hybrid of two formats; ‘ask the experts’ and a competition
to find information. The introduction to the Internet site that accompanies the
programme ( tells children that ‘This is the
place to ask any question in the world’ and that ‘We will help you find the answer,
as well as the way to get it’. It also advises that the answers will be broadcast.
Twenty-one categories of potential questions are identified, ranging from Relation-
ships, Sport and Animals to Languages, Science and Nature, and Money. Accord-
ing to the programme editor, approximately 90% of the children send their
questions via the specified Internet site, the remainder doing so via the telephone.
Only the questions submitted via email are used in this study.
The programme was first broadcast in August 2003 and by early January 2004
over 3100 questions had been accumulated in an email database. Of these, 1535
questions fell in the following science and technology-related categories: Animals,
Health & Medicine, How stuff works, Nature & Science, Earth & Space, Comput-
ers & Internet, and Inventors & Inventions. A total 17.6% of the questions in
these categories were non-scientific; for example, historical questions like ‘Who
invented the ICQ?’ (an instant messaging system) or legal questions such as ‘Is
the software Kazaa legal?’ Questions of this kind were commonly associated with
scientific and technological issues, and for this reason they were included in the
A total of 123 of these 1535 queries asked more than one question. The subques-
tions in each multiple query were separated and dealt with as discrete items. This
resulted in a final sample size of 1676 science and technology-related questions, all
of which were submitted in Hebrew.
Gender split. Hebrew is a gender-identifying language. As a result, some of those
submitting questions automatically revealed their sex through the use of verb gender
indicators; for example, ‘I’m checking’ translates as ‘ani bodeket’ (feminine) or ‘ani
bodek’ (masculine). Children’s names provided a further indication of the sex of the
questioner, although some names (e.g. ‘Liron’) could be associated with either a boy
or a girl. Thirty-two per cent of the 1676 questions could not be identified by either
of these methods and the sex of these children therefore remains unknown. Among
the 1140 gender-identifiable questions, 496 were asked by girls (43.5%) and 644 by
boys (56.5%).
This gender split mirrors that found in an analysis of questions submitted to a scien-
tific Internet site based in Rome (Falchetti et al., 2003), and a UK-based science line
(K. Mathieson, personal communication, 2 April 2004), as well as results from the
1999 US Science and Engineering Indicators, which showed that women are less likely
than men to use media that foster informal learning about science (National Science
Foundation, 2000; Nisbet et al., 2002). It also resonates with the evidence that boys
in general have more positive attitudes towards science than girls (Crettaz von Roten,
2004; Kelly, 1978; Weinburgh, 1995) and greater interest in it (Gardner, 1975).
806 A. Baram-Tsabari and A. Yarden
Socio-economic split. The socio-economic status of the respondents was determined
by their place of residence and characterization and ranking of local authorities of
the Central Bureau of Statistics (2004). The latter uses a series of variables such as
demography, education, standard of living, characteristics of the work force, and the
level of financial allowances and support, in order to allocate local authorities to one
of 10 groups on a scale of 1 (lowest socio-economic level) to 10 (highest). The
number of people in each cluster is different, with most of the population falling in
the mid-clusters.
The 1523 questions were analysed with reference to socio-economic status. Clus-
ters 1, 2, and 3 were almost absent from the database (with zero, two, and seven
questions, respectively). This is not surprising since most of the local authorities in
those clusters are inhabited by Orthodox Jews or Israeli Arabs, two groups that tend
not to watch Hebrew-speaking television. Clusters 4, 5, and 6 were well represented,
with 208, 254, and 208 questions, respectively, whereas the dominant clusters were
the more prosperous clusters 7 and 8, with 399 and 390 questions, respectively. The
most prosperous (but much smaller), clusters 9 and 10, contributed 51 and four
questions, respectively, to the database. These figures suggest that the population
that submitted questions to the programme was more prosperous than the average
population. This is not surprising since the sample was drawn from people who have
an access to the cable service (60% of Israeli households; Israeli Ministry of
Communication, 2003) as well as to the Internet (50% of Israelis according to the
Computer Industry Almanac’s estimation; ClickZ 2004), and who choose to
subscribe to the children’s enrichment channel.
Since the allocation of local authorities to a financial cluster depends upon a
composite average figure, the bias towards the more prosperous socio-economic
groups may be somewhat more marked than the figures in the previous paragraph
indicate. Children from cluster 4 or cluster 5, for example, might belong to the most
prosperous families in that town or city, and might be more appropriately associated
with the average socio-economic state of cluster 8 or cluster 9.
Given these uncertainties, no attempt was made to establish a correlation between
the types of question asked and the socio-economic status of the questioner. However,
the data can be used to characterize the socio-economic level of the children in the
research sample and to extrapolate the findings to comparable populations.
Age split. A total of 1461 of the questioners stated their age when asking their ques-
tions. The distribution obtained from these data is almost statistically normal, with a
mean age of 10.6 years and a standard deviation of 2.3. All of the ages used in this
analysis are expressed as whole numbers rounded to the nearest year. In broad
terms, most questions in this research came from children in the later years of
elementary school and in the early years of the Junior High School (ages 9–12).
Reliability. In order to test for internal consistency of the data, a split-half test was
performed in the following manner: a chi-square test was performed between the
Characterizing Childrens’ Spontaneous Interests 807
odd and the even questions assembling the database. The split-half test showed no
significant differences between the groups with regard to gender ( = 0.1, p = 0.75),
socio-economic split ( = 2.79, p = 0.73), and age ( = 6.13, p = 0.80). It did not
show significant differences for questions’ characteristics as Field of interest ( =
1.45, p = 0.92), Motivation ( = 3.55, p = 0.89), Type of information requested (
= 5.9, p = 0.32), Country-specific aspects ( = 0.08, p = 0.77), and Source ( =
4.35, p = 0.11).
Classifying the questions
One hundred of the questions were first translated into English and their classifica-
tion and categorization carried out independently by two additional researchers in
order to establish an acceptable level of reliability. For the first preliminary trial, 50
of the questions were coded independently. Problematic issues were discussed and
refined. For the second trial, the remaining 50 questions were also coded. The
agreement between the trials was: Field of interest, 89%; Motivation, 90%; Type of
information requested, 85%; Country-specific aspects, 98%; Source, 98%. The
remaining disagreements were then resolved by discussion between the researchers,
with the coding system adjusted as necessary. The following five sets of coding
schemes were eventually produced in order to provide a variety of perspectives
regarding the children’s interests in science and technology, as indicated by the
questions they submitted to the programme. Each coding scheme was subdivided as
Field of interest
Questions in this coding scheme were placed in one of the following categories:
‘Biology’, ‘Physics’, ‘Chemistry’, ‘Earth sciences’, ‘Astrophysics’, ‘Nature of science
(NOS) inquiry’, and ‘Technology’.
‘Earth Science’ and ‘Astrophysics’ were kept as distinct categories since each
accommodated a significant number of questions. ‘NOS inquiries’ were general
questions about how scientists develop and use scientific knowledge (Ryder et al.,
1999) without reference to a specific scientific context. ‘Technology’ questions
were categorized by defining technology as the development, production, and
maintenance of artefacts in a social context, as well as the artefacts themselves
(Gardner et al., 1996). This enabled accommodating most of the questions from
the original groups used by the television programme, namely the ‘Computer &
the Internet’, ‘How stuff works’, and ‘Inventors & inventions’. Each of the
categories (except for the NOS inquiry) was further divided into subcategories,
resulting in a total of 65 subcategories. Seven questions that did not fit any of
these were classified as ‘Undistinguished’ (e.g. ‘does god exist?’). For examples of
the application of the categories and subcategories in this coding scheme, see
Table 1.
808 A. Baram-Tsabari and A. Yarden
Table 1. Some examples of classification according to field of interest
Category Subcategory Example (gender, age)a
Biology Human
How come we don’t feel growing up? (nine years)
If you go on a diet, where does the fat go? Does it melt?
When a cow goes ‘Moo’ is it speaking to its friends or
keeping its territory? (male, eight years)
Extinct animals
Will the dinosaurs come back in 20 million years? (male, 18
Physics Light, heat,
Why is it that when you put the reverse of a CD in the light
it becomes colourful? (male)
Electricity &
Water does not conduct electricity, so why when I come out
of the shower am I told not to put the lights on with wet
feet? (male)
Chemistry What things are
made of
What are the capsules of medication made of? Is it plastic?
Isn’t dangerous to the digestive system? (male, 10 years)
Elements What does mercury look like in nature? (11 years)
Earth sciences Meteorology Why it doesn’t snow at the seaside like in Jerusalem, and it
doesn’t rain all year like in England? (male, 15 years)
Environment What will happen in 50 years if we won’t watch over the
amount of toxic materials that are emitted into the
atmosphere? (male, 12 years)
Astrophysics Space missions When Ilan Ramon and all the other astronauts on the
Columbia had to pass through the atmosphere and didn’t
have enough power, why wasn’t another spaceship sent to
save them? … And why didn’t they pay attention to that
little brick that was falling from the wing? (female, 13 years)
The solar
When we are looking from Earth to the sky we see the sun
in the blue sky. So how can it be that the sun is in space,
which is black? (male, nine years)
Nature of
science inquiry
Computers &
the internet
If I want to conduct research and publish it, what should I
do? (male, 13 years)
Technology I want to know how to build an internet site and if it is
difficult. (female, 10 years)
Electronics Why is it forbidden to put iron in a microwave? (male, 12
Optics How does the barcode in the supermarket work? (male)
History of
Who invented the computer and how? (male, 10 years)
aWhere data are available.
Characterizing Childrens’ Spontaneous Interests 809
An attempt was also made to identify and classify the questioners’ motivation for
asking their questions. Since it was not possible to ask the children why they sent
their questions, it was necessary to interpret their possible motivation from the way
in which their questions were worded and phrased. The two main categories chosen
were ‘Non-applicative’ and ‘Applicative’. The former was subdivided into ‘Spectac-
ular aspects’, ‘Philosophical and aesthetic aspects’, ‘General curiosity’, ‘Seeking an
explanation for a direct observation’ and ‘Linguistics aspects’. For examples of the
categories used in this coding scheme, see Table 2.
The subcategory of ‘Spectacular aspects’ emerged from the large number of chil-
dren’s enquiries about the ‘biggest’, ‘fastest’, ‘oldest’ or ‘strongest thing ever’. There
were very few ‘Philosophical & aesthetic questions’ but they were easy to identify.
‘Linguistic’ issues interested those children who wanted to know why things were
named the way they were. ‘Seeking an explanation for a direct observation’ was a
subcategory established to accommodate those science and technology-related ques-
tions that stemmed from children’s personal observations. These direct observation
questions were distinguished from ‘General curiosity’ items either by a specific refer-
ence in the question to the personal context of the observation or by the likelihood of
the question being triggered by a personal observation.
The other main category of motivation was the ‘Applicative’ question, which was
subdivided into ‘Personal use’ and ‘Human health & lifestyle’.
Some questions classified as ‘General curiosity’ could have been alternatively clas-
sified as ‘Personal use’. Examples include ‘How are animals domesticated to make
sure that they won’t hurt you?’ and ‘How can you tell if dogs feel bad or sad or
scared?’ However, since these questions did not specify a personal use for the knowl-
edge being sought, they were categorized under ‘General curiosity’.
Table 2. Some examples of classification according to motivation
Category/subcategory Example (gender, age)a
Spectacular aspects What is the biggest lizard in the world? (male, 11 years)
Philosophical & aesthetic aspects Why do people eat animals? (10 years)
General curiosity Does a whale have a bellybutton? (female, 12 years)
Explanation for an observation When I’m being hurt, what’s in the plaster that helps
the wound? (female, 10 years)
Linguistics Why the dinosaurs’ names are so long? In what
language is the word ‘dinosaur’? (male, 10 years)
Personal use I want to add a chat application to my Internet site,
what should I do? (male, 15 years)
Health & lifestyle How can I lose weight in few days? (female, 12 years)
aWhere data are available.
810 A. Baram-Tsabari and A. Yarden
Type of requested information
Bybee has emphasized the importance of the ability to ‘ask the right questions’ for the
development of higher levels of biological literacy (Biological Sciences Curriculum
Study, 1993) and his question typology includes four types: description, investiga-
tion, prediction, and evidence. This typology mimics the scientific way of investigat-
ing phenomena as it is presented in school, thus proving to be unsuitable for the
informal database used in the present research. In addition, the typology proved
sensitive to age: a given question could be regarded as simple or complex, depending
upon the age of the questioner.
As a result, a typology was developed that describes the nature of the question and
the knowledge it generates. A category of requests for ‘Factual’ information included
terminological (What is www?), historical (When was …?), descriptive (What does a
male mosquito eat?), and confirmatory (Is it true that …?) items. Requests for
‘Explanatory’ information are basically ‘Why’ and ‘How’ questions. Requests for
information regarding scientific research are divided into ‘Methodological’ and
‘Evidential’. ‘Methodological’ information has to do with scientific ways of finding
things out and with scientific and technological procedures. Requests for ‘Evidential’
information are concerned with how we know what we know. The ‘Open-ended’
type of information deals with opinions, controversial themes, and futuristic ques-
tions that science cannot answer for the time being. Requests for applicative infor-
mation are concerned with the settings in which scientific and technological
knowledge is being used to resolve problems and challenges. For examples of the
allocation of questions to this coding scheme and its categories, see Table 3.
As with any typology, a few questions were difficult to classify; for example, ‘How
do you know that a dog has rabies?’, which was asked by an 11-year-old boy. This
Table 3. Some examples of classification according to type of requested information
Category Example (gender, age) a
Factual Does a fly have a heart? (10 years); How many astronauts were sent into space?
(female, eight years)
Explanatory How come that from the electric wire that connects to our television we see a
picture? (male); Why does the Earth turn around? (male)
Methodological Why do the measurements always start at sea level? (female, 11 years); I read in
the newspaper that scientists can multiply the average life span of certain
creatures. How is it being done? (male, 13 years)
Evidential What is evolution, and is there any evidence that it exists? (female); How do
they know that there is a hole in the ozone layer? (11 years)
Open-ended Why is it important to protect the environment? (eight years); Will there be
flying cars in the future? (male)
Application I’m 11 years old and I eat a lot and don’t gain weight. I weigh 24 kilos and a
half. My question is — is that bad? (female, 11 years); My dog is big and strong
although it is not one year old yet, how should I tame it? (female, 11 years)
aWhere data are available.
Characterizing Childrens’ Spontaneous Interests 811
could be regarded simply as a request for ‘Factual’ information, asking what the
symptoms of rabies are. It could also be categorized as a request for ‘Methodological’
information or as ‘Evidential’ information. In this case, the item was ultimately
classified as ‘Evidential’.
Another problem was posed by some of the questions submitted in the present tense
when translation from Hebrew into English allowed two possible readings; for exam-
ple, ‘Ech bonim atar Internet?’ can be translated either as ‘How is an Internet site built?’
or as ‘How do you build an Internet site?’ ‘How is an Internet site built?’ is clearly a
request for ‘Explanatory’ information—a ‘how stuff works’ type of question. However,
a question of the form ‘How do you build?’ belongs in the category of ‘Application’.
In this case, the question was categorized as ‘Applicative’ and the motivation as
‘General curiosity’. Fortunately, ambiguities of this type were few in number.
Country-specific aspects
Particular attention was given to questions with a local or national rather than inter-
national emphasis (e.g. ‘Two years ago there was an attempt to hide a bomb in the
Glilot gas distribution centre and they said the centre would be shut down, but until
now nothing has been done. Why? It is very dangerous’.). The number and nature of
such questions serves as an indication of the cultural dependence of the science and
technology-related questions asked by the Israeli children responding to the televi-
sion programme.
Some questions indicated the sources of scientific and technological information
that the children used and drew upon. The three sources mentioned in the questions
were ‘Hearsay’ (e.g. ‘I heard that’ and ‘People say that’), the broadcast and print
‘Media’ and ‘School science’. These were therefore used as the categories for this
class of question.
Results and discussion
In order to characterize children’s spontaneous interests in science and technology,
questions were collected from an Internet site that accompanies a children’s televi-
sion programme. The questions were analysed with reference to five different coding
schemes: Field of interest, Motivation for asking the question, Type of information
requested, Country-specific aspects, and Source of information, also considering the
available background knowledge about the children who sent the questions.
Field of interest
A breakdown of the questions analysed by Field of interest is presented in Table 4.
The popularity of biological questions among Israeli children reflects findings from
studies undertaken elsewhere (for example, Murray & Reiss, 2003; Qualter, 1993).
812 A. Baram-Tsabari and A. Yarden
Of the 831 biological questions in the present study, 72% were essentially zoolog-
ical and one-quarter addressed issues in ‘Human biology’. Botanical questions
accounted for only 2.3% and the number of items concerned with the ‘History of
biology’ was negligible. Table 5 provides details about the classification of the ‘Zool-
ogy’ and ‘Human biology’ questions by subcategory.
Among the 600 ‘Zoology’ questions, there was a marked emphasis on the ‘Physi-
ology and anatomy’ of a variety of animals. Such questions were mostly curiosity
driven (e.g. ‘How do dolphins sleep if they have to breathe?’). The second largest
group of questions concerned relationships between animals and human beings (e.g.
the taming of dogs and restoring sick pets to health). Animal behaviour and ‘Taxon-
omy and biodiversity’ (e.g. ‘How many reptile species are there in the world?’) were
also popular themes. Under ‘Other’ were classified questions that did not fit any of
Table 4. Breakdown of the questions by field of interest
Field of interest Frequency Per cent
Biology 831 49.6
Technology 419 25.0
Astrophysics 204 12.2
Earth sciences 102 6.1
Physics 71 4.2
Chemistry 40 2.4
Undistinguished 7 0.4
Nature of science inquiry 2 0.1
Total 1676 100.0
Table 5. Classification of ‘Zoology’ and ‘Human biology’ questionsa
Subcategory Human biology Zoology
Sickness & medicine 33.3% (69) 3% (18)
Physiology & anatomy 32.9% (68) 33.7% (202)
Nutrition 12.6% (26) 5.7% (34)
Genetics & reproduction 9.2% (19) 5.2% (31)
Behaviour & neurobiology 7.2% (15) 13% (78)
Other 1.9% (4) 3.5% (21)
Evolution & creation 1.9% (4) 1.2% (7)
Biotechnology 1% (2) 0.3% (2)
Man & animals 17.7% (106)
Taxonomy & biodiversity 12.3% (74)
Extinct animals 4.5% (27)
Total 207 600
aActual numbers in parentheses.
Characterizing Childrens’ Spontaneous Interests 813
these subcategories (e.g. ‘How many people are needed to pick up an elephant?’,
‘What is the most dangerous animal in the world?’).
The 207 ‘Human biology’ questions mainly focused on four subjects, with ‘Sick-
ness and medicine’ and ‘Physiology and anatomy’ accounting for almost two-thirds
of the items (see Table 5). ‘Genetics and reproduction’, ‘Nutrition’, and ‘Behaviour
and neurobiology’ accounted for most of the remainder.
Whereas ‘Physiology and anatomy’, ‘Evolution and creation’, and ‘Biotechnol-
ogy’ account for similar proportions of zoological and human biological questions,
interest in ‘Sickness and medicine’ is much more marked among the latter (3% in
‘Zoology’, 33.3% in ‘Human biology’). The most frequently mentioned diseases
and illnesses are cancer, AIDS, influenza, rabies, and asthma, although rubella,
smallpox, malaria, heart attacks and anorexia also prompted questions. Most of
the items concerning ‘Sickness and medicine’ and ‘Nutrition’ are motivated by
application, but most of the other biological questions seem to be ‘Non-applica-
tive’. Interestingly, although ‘Human biology’ is assumed to be the subject most
directly relevant to children’s lives, questions classified as ‘Applicative’ feature
more prominently within ‘Zoology’ (21.7%) than in ‘Human biology’ (15.9%).
However, the relative frequency of questions categorized as ‘Zoology’ decreases
with age, whereas the interest in ‘Human biology’ increases (χ2 = 8.35, p < 0.05)1
(see Figure 1).
8 or less (n=109) 9-11 (n=413) 12-14 (n=166) Over 14 (n=20)
Relative number of questions
Human Biology Zoology
Figure 1. Relative frequency of ‘Zoology’ and ‘Human biology’ questions among four
age groups
814 A. Baram-Tsabari and A. Yarden
Figure 1. Relative frequency of ‘Zoology’ and ‘Human biology’ questions among four age groups.
The interest of older pupils in human biology is well-attested by a number of
studies. A focus-group study of 16-year-old students in England showed that
aspects of human biology generated the largest number of comments and the
lowest level of disagreement among girls and boys who were not planning to take
post-compulsory science studies (Osborne & Collins, 2001). Likewise, Tamir and
Gardner (1989) found that among 900 Israeli 10th-grade biology students, the
highest levels of interest related to topics in human biology. Given the age distribu-
tion of the sample in the present study, it seems reasonable to assume that the
change in focus of the questions revealed in Figure 1 is related to issues surround-
ing the onset of puberty.
The second largest group of questions (419), classified by field of interest,
concerned technology and accounted for 25% of the database (see Table 4). Most of
the questions concerned ‘Computers and the Internet’ (45%) and the ‘History of
technology’ (31.5%). As might be anticipated, the motivation for asking questions
here was dominated by application (especially ‘Personal use’) with a few items classi-
fiable as ‘Non-applicative’. Moreover, all the ‘Applicative’ questions related to the
‘Computer and the Internet’ and ‘Inventions and patenting’. These are apparently
the two fields in which the children were eager to do things by themselves and
needed some information to help them with the task. Curiosity-driven technology
questions are ‘How stuff works’ kind of questions, with many of the explanatory
questions motivated by a direct observation (e.g. ‘How does the barcode in the
supermarket work?’).
The third largest field of interest revealed by the questions is ‘Astrophysics’, the
204 questions accounting for 12.2% of the database. The main interest of the
children here can be described as a type of ‘space geography’; that is, how big and far
away the planets are in the solar system (34.3%) and how far away are the stars and
planets (26.5%). The ‘Big Bang and star formation’ comprise almost 10% of the
database (e.g. ‘Why did the Big Bang happen and what was exploded there?’).
‘Space missions’ make up 17.6% of the questions asking about the way spacecraft
work, how they are named, their equipment, the number of astronauts sent into
space, and the reasons for going to the moon. The possibility of ‘Extraterrestrial life’
and of any ill intention towards Earth account for another 9.3% of the ‘Astrophysics’
items. Again, this interest in space science among Israeli students mirrors that found
among students elsewhere (for example, Osborne & Collins, 2001; Sjøberg, 2000b),
as well as among Spanish scientific television programme viewers, where the biggest
audience share was recorded for episodes concerning cosmology and physics
(Estupinya et al., 2004).
The 102 ‘Earth sciences’ questions made up 6.1% of the database. In decreasing
order of popularity, questions dealt with ‘Meteorology’, ‘Environment’, ‘Geography’,
‘Earth atmosphere’, ‘Geology’, ‘Oceanography’, together with a small but deter-
mined group of ‘The end of the world’ items (2.9%). The ‘Earth sciences’ category
is characterized by an above-average percentage of ‘Explanatory’, ‘Methodology’ and
‘Open-ended’ type of requests for information and by a relatively few ‘Factual’ and
‘Applicative’ requests.
Characterizing Childrens’ Spontaneous Interests 815
Most of the 71 (4.2% of the database) ‘Physics’ questions related to classical
physics—‘Light, heat and sound’ (34%), ‘Electricity and magnetism’ (22.5%), and
‘Mechanics’ (11%). Another 11% of the ‘Physics’ questions addressed topics in
‘Modern physics’ (e.g. ‘What happens while moving at the speed of light?’) whereas
a surprisingly large proportion asked about the history of the discipline (21.2%).
There were only 40 ‘Chemistry’ questions (2.4% of the database) and many asked
about the composition of everyday objects such as erasers, toilet paper, and glasses.
Others addressed the more visually appealing dimensions of the subject such as the
making of fireworks, blue gas flames, and diamonds. A few questions related to such
chemical topics as the states of matter (e.g. ‘Is there a substance that is not in any of
the three states of matter?’) or sublimation (e.g. ‘What do you call it when a
substance goes directly from solid to gas?’).
The fields of interest in science and technology show a number of changes with
age, as can be seen in Figure 2. The significant differences between the age groups
(χ2 = 33.03, p < 0.05) is mainly owing to a decrease in the interest in ‘Biology’ and
an increase in interest in ‘Technology’ among the two older age groups. The
decrease in interest in ‘Biology’ is accompanied by the shift in interest within the
discipline from ‘Zoology’ to ‘Human biology’ referred to earlier.
Figure 2. Interest in science and technology issues among four age groups.
Another notable feature of Figure 2 is the relative popularity of ‘Physics’ among
the youngest age group. This group generated 7% of the ‘Physics’ questions
compared with 3.2–3.8% of those from older children. No age-related shift in
children’s interest in ‘Earth sciences’ (p = 0.77) or ‘Astrophysics’ (p = 0.87) is
indicated by the data.
Figure 2. Interest in science and technology issues among four age groups
816 A. Baram-Tsabari and A. Yarden
The children’s motivation for asking their questions was for the most part ‘Non-
applicative’. Only 20% of the questions explicitly related to an application, and
almost all of these were associated with ‘Biology’ (e.g. ‘My cat eats grass, is it
harmful? What can I do about it?’) or ‘Technology’ (e.g. ‘How can I build my own
Internet site?’).
There are some shifts with age in the motivation for asking the questions. The
proportion of questions asked for applicative reasons rises steadily with age between
ages 6 and 16 (χ2 = 51.21, p < 0.001), as can be seen in Figure 3.
Figure 3. Motivation for asking the questions among four age groups.
The fall in the proportion of ‘Applicative’ questions among the 16-year-old
group is not significant—there is no statistical difference between the 15 year olds
and the 16 year olds (χ2 = 0.331, p = 0.57). Since the 16 year olds are rather a
small group, it is impossible to determine whether the trend evident in the earlier
years is actually reversed or whether the sample of 16 year olds is not large
enough to reflect an ongoing applicative trend. If attention is confined to groups
of n > 50, ‘Applicative’ questions increase from 10.3% at age 7 to almost one-
third of the questions at the age of 14. Such a shift is redolent of the early-twenti-
eth-century developmental ideas of T.P. Nunn, who identified three motives in
the minds of pupils at different stages of their conceptual development: wonder,
utility, and systematization (Jenkins, 1979; Nunn, 1925). If wonder is equated
with ‘Non-applicative’ questions and ‘Applicative’ with utility, then the shift
between these two stages lends some empirical support to Nunn’s notion of
Figure 3. Motivation for asking the questions among four age groups
Characterizing Childrens’ Spontaneous Interests 817
Type of requested information
More than one-half of the questions asked by the children were ‘Factual’, a little
more than one-quarter were ‘Explanatory’, and 13.5% were ‘Applicative’. Together,
those three types account for 96% of all the questions. ‘Methodology’, ‘Evidential’,
and ‘Open-ended’ questions make up the remaining 4%. This picture of children’s
questions is far more encouraging than that portrayed by studies conducted within
science classes. Monitoring the type of questions asked by six eighth-grade students
during hands-on activities in chemistry, for example, showed that a majority (86%)
of the questions sought basic factual or procedural information, with only 14% of
them reflecting curiosity, puzzlement, scepticism or speculation (Chin et al., 2002),
a finding consistent with Dillon’s study of non-science high-school classrooms
(Dillon, 1988).
While most of the questions in the present sample are unique, and appear only
once, there are a few questions that seem to interest a significant proportion of the
children. Examples of these are presented in Table 6. Although non-scientific ques-
tions and ‘Open-ended’ questions constituted only a small proportion of the overall
sample, such questions were among the most frequently asked.
Country-specific aspects
Only 50 questions (3%) in the entire sample were ‘Country-specific’ (e.g. ‘Can you
see Venus from Israel?’), and over one-third of those were non-scientific (e.g. ‘When
is the F-16I (Fighting Falcon) scheduled to be brought to Israel?’). Twenty-two per
cent of the questions that refer to an Israeli context related to ‘Earth sciences’ (e.g.
‘How come the minerals in the Dead Sea don’t run out?’).
Sources of information
Only 44 out of the 1676 questions included a specific reference to a source of infor-
mation. The main sources were ‘Hearsay’ and the ‘Media’, with only five children in
the sample indicating that they were asking something related to their school science
education. Questions about the height and composition of the atmosphere were very
Table 6. Frequently asked questions
Question n
Which is the biggest/fastest/strongest/smallest animal? 46
Who invented the computer? 26
Untill what age does a dog/cat/hamster/turtle live? 22
Is there life in space/on other stars? 15
How do I build an Internet site? 13
Who invented television? 11
How to convince mom to let me have a pet? 11
818 A. Baram-Tsabari and A. Yarden
common, perhaps because of the publicity associated with the first Israeli astronaut
travelling aboard the spaceship Columbia early in 2003.
Gender and social background
Reference has already been made to the different numbers of boys and girls who
submitted questions to the television programme. As far as the social background of
the questioners is concerned, the percentages of boys to girls from the lower (3–4)
and average (5–6) communities were very similar (48.5–51.5% and 48.4–51.6%,
respectively). It is the more prosperous communities (7–8) that principally
accounted for the masculine bias in the overall database (59.5% boys, 40.5% girls)
(χ2 = 14.6, p < 0.05). The gender differential was more marked in the most prosper-
ous clusters (9–10), (75.9% boys, 24.1% girls), although it should be noted that this
group is relatively small (n = 55, 29 of those with gender known).
An analysis of the questions reveals a significant difference in the field of interest
of questions asked by the two genders. Questions from girls are predominantly
biological (75.0% of the total), with boys dominating in all the remaining categories
(χ2 = 23.08, p < 0.001). Girls’ preference for biology (χ2 = 9.5, p < 0.01) was
matched only by their lack of enthusiasm to submit physics questions (χ2 = 7.2, p <
0.01), a finding consistent with that of the recent ROSE study involving nineth-
grade Israeli students (Trumper, 2004) and with the number of Israeli female
students choosing to take post-16 biology and physics courses in high school (only
33% of the post-16 physics students are female versus 65% of the biology students;
Coordinating Supervisor of Physics, personal communication, 29 July 2004; Coor-
dinating Supervisor of Biology, personal communication, 8 September 2003). No
gender-related differences in interest were found in the case of ‘Astrophysics’ (p =
0.39) and ‘Earth sciences’ (p = 0.43). The numbers in the ‘Chemistry’ and ‘NOS’
categories were too small to permit a meaningful quantitative analysis. ‘Technology’
might be described as a borderline case.
Statistically, it cannot be argued from the present study that interest in
‘Technology’ is gender dependent (χ2 = 3.1, p = 0.078). However, there is a
significant difference between girls and boys within the ‘Technology’ subcategories
(χ2 = 14.3, p < 0.05). Boys focused their questions on ‘Computers and the Inter-
net’ and on the ‘History of technology’, whereas the girls were more diverse in
their interests.
These findings are consistent with work performed elsewhere, including Scotland
(Stark & Gray, 1999), Australia (Dawson, 2000), USA (Jones et al., 2000), England
(Osborne & Collins, 2001) and the international study SAS (Sjøberg, 2000b). The
SAS study is noteworthy for the inclusion of a free response item that invited the 13-
year-old respondents to write about ‘Me as a scientist’. Biological themes were by far
the most popular in responses to this question, by both boys and girls, but with the
latter being more marked. The present study does not, however, reflect the gender
differences found in ‘Technology’ and ‘Earth sciences’ recorded in the SAS study
among students from countries in the developed world.
Characterizing Childrens’ Spontaneous Interests 819
Although the emphasis on ‘Biology’ is very different between girls and boys, there
was no gender difference in the questions relating to ‘Human biology’, ‘Zoology’,
and ‘Botany’. It seems that within biology boys and girls share the same fields of
interest. Within ‘Astrophysics’ the boys were more interested in the physical aspects
of the discipline, whereas the girls asked more about space missions. Both genders
were equally interested in the possibility of ‘Extraterrestrial life’, another finding
consistent with that of the SAS study (Sjøberg, 2000b).
Boys and girls also tended to ask for different types of information (χ2 = 17.8, p =
0.01), with the boys favouring ‘Factual’ and ‘Methodological’ types of information
whereas girls asked for more ‘Explanatory’ and ‘Applicative’ types of information.
The same pattern is mirrored with respect to motivation (χ2 = 31.3, p < 0.001). Boys
tended to pose ‘Spectacular’ and ‘General curiosity’ questions, whereas girls sought
straightforward explanations for their own direct observations. Girls also asked more
‘Applicative’ questions, with reference to ‘Personal use’ and ‘Health and lifestyle’.
History of science
The children’s questions indicate an interest in the history of some scientific disci-
plines. While 31.5% of the ‘Technology’ questions were historical, only five ques-
tions in ‘Biology’ (0.6% of the ‘Biology’ questions) revealed a similar historical
concern. In ‘Physics’ 21.1% of the questions were due to interest in the history of
the discipline, whereas ‘Chemistry’, ‘Astrophysics’, and the ‘Earth sciences’ did not
have enough historical questions to be accounted for separately.
Within the ‘History of technology’, children seemed very interested to know who
invented the technologies they used. For example, they asked about the inventors of
computers and the internet, television, various computer games, air conditioning,
escalators, plastic, the compass, cars, airplanes, and other useful objects and devel-
opments. Notably, many of the historical questions seemed to imply that a techno-
logical innovation, such as a computer, could be attributed to a single inventor or
circumstance. There was also no indication that children understood that a given
technology evolved over time. For the most part, questions simply asked ‘Who
invented X?’, with ‘Who was the first to invent X?’ a relatively common variant.
Some children were interested to know where and when a particular technology was
invented. There were similarities with the 15 questions regarding the ‘History of
physics’. Eight of them asked who invented or discovered electricity, where, when,
and how. Other topics of interest were the inventors of the LASER and the magnet.
Occasionally, the children’s interest in the human aspect was so great that it eclipsed
the science itself, as demonstrated by the question asked by a 13-year-old boy: ‘Who
discovered aerodynamics, and what is it anyway?’
Among the five questions concerned with the ‘History of biology’, the emphasis
was once again on the date and/or priority of the discovery or the identity of the
discoverer. Examples include ‘Who was the first to discover the dinosaurs?’ (nine
year old), ‘Who were the scientists who discovered bacteria?’ (13-year-old boy), and
‘Who discovered the vitamins?’
820 A. Baram-Tsabari and A. Yarden
The reasons for these apparent differences in interest among the children regard-
ing the historical aspects of the different scientific disciplines are not clear. They may
reflect different historical emphases in the teaching of the sciences in school and/or
suggest that the historical bases of the disciplines are more evident in some cases
than others.
Although the study described sheds some light on what interests Israeli students,
caution is needed in identifying any implications the pupils’ voice may have for
school science education, as discussed in the following. The self-selecting sample
used in this research does not represent all Israeli children, let alone children in
general. It is a group of children that might be more interested in science and have
more access to resources than the entire children population. Therefore, the oppor-
tunistic nature of the sample places some limitations on the validity of our results.
Although our study does not use a controlled sample, the criterion validity of the
results is agreeable—there is sufficient similarity with key findings from other
research based upon selected and controlled samples to suggest that the outcomes of
the present study can command a degree of confidence.
There are three aspects of the findings that are relevant to current debates about
school science curriculum reform. These relate to the incorporation of the history
and philosophy of science and technology within school science courses, the teach-
ing of contemporary socio-scientific issues, and the accommodation of science and
technology as an integrated programme. Each of these will now be considered in
First, the results reported suggest that many children are interested in at least
some of the human dimensions of science and technology, a finding that might be
seen as offering some support to advocates of the history and philosophy of science
and technology in the school curriculum (Galili, 2001; Jenkins, 1989; Matthews,
1994; Solomon, 1989). However, it is clear that any such interest is differentiated by
discipline (as discussed earlier). Whatever the reasons for this apparent difference
may be, it seems that the case for including the history of science in the school
curriculum may need to take more account of the differences between the scientific
disciplines than is presently the case. It perhaps also needs to take account of the
finding in England that 16-year-old pupils regarded the school science curriculum as
more concerned with the past than with contemporary science (Osborne & Collins,
2000). In addition, it may be appropriate to distinguish different aspects and periods
of the history of science and technology. To cite an obvious example, the develop-
ment of the modern computer as a historical event seems likely to interest more
children than, say, Mendeleef’s periodic table.
Second, at a time when curriculum developers are promoting school science
courses that address contemporary issues in science and society, the relative lack of
interest among the Israeli students responding to the television programme with
questions addressing such issues is of some interest. The preponderance of younger
Characterizing Childrens’ Spontaneous Interests 821
children in the sample may be significant here since contemporary science and
technology-related issues seem more likely to interest those who are somewhat older.
However, while the age distribution of the sample may be significant, a similar anal-
ysis of questions sent by audience from all ages to an Italian ‘Expert on line’ applica-
tion yielded very few requests for opinions on controversial issues (Falchetti et al.,
2003). It may of course be the case that the ‘Ask the expert’ format does not encour-
age questions that are likely to require discursive and/or contentious answers.
Using local issues in the science classroom is also considered to be a mean of
making school science more relevant to the student. The assumption is that teaching
should be built on the interests and experiences of the student. Sjøberg (2000b)
argues that the content of school science needs to be adapted to culture and context,
since national culture and current conditions affect students’ attitudes about science
(Hofstein et al., 1986). However, for the most part, the children’s questions to
‘Lechu Hapso’ reflected no local emphasis. The overwhelming majority made no
reference to Israel, its distinctive geography or unique fauna. Rather, they reflected
what might be termed a global or international view.
Third, the findings of this study underscore the need for caution in discussing
science and technology as a homogeneous field. Findings relating to, for example,
gender differences that apply to school science may not necessarily apply to school
technology and vice versa. Similarly, it is sometimes important to differentiate
between the sciences and different types of technology when commenting upon such
issues as students’ interests and motivation.
Whereas some countries have developed separate school courses in science and
technology (e.g. England, New Zealand), others have preferred a more integrated or
coordinated approach. The STS approach was officially adopted in Israel as a lead-
ing model for elementary (Israeli Ministry of Education, 1999) and junior high-
schools (Israeli Ministry of Education, 1996) in the form of science and technology
studies (Barak & Arely, 2003). Each subject in the syllabus contains three strands:
scientific, technological, and social. The children in the sample studied here have all
been taught in accordance with this new syllabus.
The pupils’ voice
What role may the ‘pupils’ voice’ assume in constructing or reforming school science
courses? It is evident that most of the children’s questions in their present form are
unlikely to be answered by the Israeli science and technology curriculum. It is unrea-
sonable to expect a curriculum to answer directly a question such as ‘Did the cave
men have cats?’, asked by an eight year old, even if the relevant section of the curric-
ulum includes a unit about living creatures.
A further difficulty stems from the problems associated with relating abstract and
general scientific knowledge to highly specific, and often practical and everyday,
contexts (Jenkins, 2000). Studying food chains in class is unlikely to satisfy the curi-
osity of a boy who wonders why he cannot raise a lion at home and turn it into a
vegetarian. However, Gallas (1995) has shown that it is possible to respond
822 A. Baram-Tsabari and A. Yarden
creatively to the issues surrounding knowledge transfer by developing a curriculum
designed to promote children’s sense of wonder. Her strategy enabled children to
ask questions and offer theories about the human body that went well beyond the
developmental expectations for their chronological age. She claims that a curriculum
that emerges from children’s questions becomes part of the process of building a
community of learners whose interests, questions, and theories emerge from the
inside-out, rather than the outside-in (Gallas, 1995). But even this luxurious solu-
tion answered just few of the children’s questions, and then in a very specific area. It
is by no means obvious that it can be generalized to other areas of science education
or indeed used to construct a national science curriculum.
The results also raise an interesting issue about the broad fields of interest of the
children and the time devoted to them in the school curriculum. For example, the
interest of younger children in zoological topics sits somewhat uncomfortably with
the amount of time spent studying other biological topics in Israeli elementary and
junior high schools. Another contrast is the emphasis put on human biology at an
age when pupils’ questions suggest that they are more likely to be interested, for
example, in the pregnancy of their guinea pig than in their own blood system. If the
outcome is that school science delays gratification of pupils’ genuine curiosity and
interest, then this is likely to have a negative effect on pupils’ interest in science
(Osborne & Collins, 2000). Engendering positive enquiring attitudes to science and
scientific issues during primary school might well pay off in the longer term (Stark &
Gray, 1999), since the elementary grades are pivotal years for the development of an
interest in science (Shapiro, 1994). Cognitive gains may also depend on ensuring
that the affective aspects are considered.
It is not, of course, being argued that topics such as photosynthesis, the cell,
energy conservation and the particle model should not be taught just because they
do not appear in the children’s self-generated questions. Nor is it being assumed
that interest in a topic is the same as being willing to make the intellectual commit-
ment required to understand it scientifically, although it is obvious that children’s
questions can be used by a skilful teacher to promote a wider scientific understand-
ing than that required simply to answer the question. However, a fundamental
issue remains. In what sense or senses is a curriculum ‘relevant’ if there is a marked
difference between what school science offers and the topics that seem to interest
children? According to Rudduck and Flutter (2000), the concept of ‘relevance’ has
traditionally been defined in reference to an adult’s, rather than a pupil’s, view. If
relevance is refocused in response to this pupil-centred view, then it becomes possi-
ble to inject a hitherto ignored element into debates about the form and content of
school science education, to respond more explicitly to gender or other significant
differences (Osborne & Collins, 2001) and to identify contexts in which scientific
concepts are more, rather than less, likely to be presented successfully. For exam-
ple, the current data present a gloomy, if not unfamiliar, picture of children’s spon-
taneous interest in chemistry and physics as expressed by their self-generated
questions, especially among girls. The same data suggest that it may be worth
exploring the teaching of a number of topics drawn from physics and chemistry in
Characterizing Childrens’ Spontaneous Interests 823
the context of space science or with reference to their technological applications.
Likewise, while questions about the nature of science and epistemological questions
(classified as evidence and methodology type of requested information) were fairly
rare, the relevant issues may be more successfully addressed in the context of
inventions and patents, a field of interest that drew mainly applicative questions
from the children.
Informal science education
Finally, it is important to acknowledge that school science does not hold a monopoly
on the dissemination of scientific knowledge. When non-scientists are looking for
scientific information, they usually turn to the mass media (Friedman, 1986). Seven
out of 10 French students stated that they gained most of their scientific knowledge
from watching television (Delacote, 1987). Also, on the other side of the Atlantic,
most American adults learn about the latest developments in science and technology
primarily from watching television (National Science Foundation, 2002). When
formal education in science ends, the media are the most readily available and some-
times the only source of information about science (Nisbet et al., 2002). Too often,
however, programmes reflect a lack of interest in the audience and its needs. ‘What
questions would most people really like to have answered about science?’ asks
LaFollette, adding that ‘We know little about which facts the audience is interested
in’ (LaFollette, 1992). Crane (1992) similarly points to the need to examine the
public’s understanding of science from the perspective of the audience. The results
of the present study might be used, therefore, to inform the producers and editors of
popular science and educational programmes.
Much of the work on this paper was carried out by Ayelet Baram-Tsabari as a Marie
Curie Fellow at the University of Leeds, UK. The authors wish to express their grat-
itude to Professor Edgar Jenkins and Dr Jim Ryder (CSSME, School of Education,
Leeds University) for their priceless reviews and valuable comments upon the early
drafts of this paper.
1. Unless otherwise indicated, a two-tailed Pearson chi-square test was used to calculate prob-
abilities. Very small groups with expected counts of less than 5 were removed from the
analysis. Because of the high number of subcategories, the results represent many times an
aggregation of small and similar subcategories. When several series containing a different
number of questions are presented on the same scale, the relative number of questions is
used in the interest of clarity and comparison. Not all the inquirers provided their full
details; therefore, sample sizes differ from graph to graph and are indicated by the ‘n
824 A. Baram-Tsabari and A. Yarden
Barak, M., & Arely, T. (2003). Technology education in Israel—Aiming to develop intellectual
abilities and skills via technology studies. In G. Graube, M. Dyrenfurth & W. Theuerkauf
(Eds.) Technology education, international concepts and perspectives (pp. 221–228). New York:
Peter Lang Press.
Biddulph, F., Symington, D., & Osborne, R.J. (1986). The place of children’s questions in
primary science education. Research in Science & Technological Education, 4(1), 77–88.
Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (1993). Developing biological literacy: A guide to developing
secondary and post-secondary biology curricula, B.Sc. Study, Trans. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt
Publishing Company.
Burke, C., & Grosvenor, I. (2003). The school I’d like: Children and young people’s reflections on an
education for the 21st century. London: RoutledgeFalmer.
Central Bureau of Statistics (2004). Characterization and ranking of local authorities according to the
population’s socio-economic level in 2001. Jerusalem: Central Bureau of Statistics.
Chin, C., Brown, D.E., & Bruce, B.C. (2002). Student-generated questions: A meaningful aspect
of learning in science. International Journal of Science Education, 24(5), 521–549.
ClickZ (2004). Population explosion! Retrieved from
geographics/article.php/151151 (accessed 28 June 2004).
Crane, V. (1992). Listening to the audience: producer–audience communication. In B.V.
Lewenstein (Ed.) When science meets the public (pp. 21–32). Washington, DC: AAAS.
Crettaz Von Roten, F. (2004). Gender differences in attitudes toward science in Switzerland.
Public Understanding of Science, 13(2), 191.
Dawson, C. (2000). Upper primary boys’ and girls’ interests in science: Have they changed since
1980? International Journal of Science Education, 22(6), 557–570.
Delacote, G. (1987). Science and scienticts: Public perception and attitudes. Paper presented at the
Communicating Science to the Public Ciba Foundation, 23 June. London.
Dillon, J.T. (1988). The remedial status of student questioning. Journal of Curriculum Studies,
20(3), 197–210.
Economic and Social Research Council (2004). ESRC network project: Consulting pupils about
teaching and learning. Available online at: (accessed 14
June 2004).
Estupinya, P., Junyent, C., Pelaez, M., Bravo, S., & Punset, E. (2004). What issues of science do
people prefer to watch on TV? Paper presented at the 8th Public Communication of Science and
Technology Conference, Barcelona, 3–6 June.
Falchetti, E., Caravita, S., & Sperduti, A. (2003). What lay people want to know from scientists: An
analysis of the data base of ‘Scienzaonline’. Paper presented at the 4th ESERA Conference,
Noordwijkerhout, The Netherlands, 19–23 August.
Friedman, S.M. (1986). The journalist’s world. In S.M. Friedman, S. Dunwoody, & C.L. Rogers
(Eds.) Scientists and journalists (pp. 17–41). New York: The Free Press.
Galili, I. (2001). Experts’ views on using history and philosophy of science in the practice of physics
instruction. Science & Education, 10(4), 345–367.
Gallas, K. (1995). Talking their way into science: Hearing children’s questions and theories, responding
with curricula. New York: Teachers College Press.
Gardner, P.L. (1975). Attitudes to science: A review. Studies in Science Education, 2, 1–41.
Gardner, P.L., Penna, C., & Brass, K. (1996). Technology education in the post-compulsory
years. In P.J. Fensham (Ed.) Science and technology education in the post compulsory years
(pp. 140–192). Melbourne, Vic.: ACER.
Hofstein, A., Scherz, Z., & Yager, R.E. (1986). What students say about science teaching, science
teachers and science classes in Israel and the U.S. Science Education, 70(1), 21–30.
Israeli Ministry of Communication. (2003). Telecommunication in Israel. Available online at: (accessed 28 June 2004).
Characterizing Childrens’ Spontaneous Interests 825
Israeli Ministry of Education. (1996). Science and technology for junior high school. Available
online at: = 886068505&page = text
(accessed 21 May 2004).
Israeli Ministry of Education. (1999). Science and technology for primary school. Available online
at: (accessed
21 May 2004).
Jenkins, E. (1989). Why the history of science? In M. Shortland, & A. Warwick (Eds.) Teaching the
history of science (pp. 19–29). Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Jenkins, E. (2000). ‘Science for all’: Time for a paradigm shift? In R. Millar, J. Leach, &
J. Osborne (Eds.) Improving science education: The contribution of research (pp. 207–226).
Buckingham: Open University Press.
Jenkins, E.W. (1979). From Armstrong to Nuffield. London: Murray.
Jones, G.M., Howe, A., & Rua, M.J. (2000). Gender differences in students’ experiences,
interests, and attitudes toward science and scientists. Science Education, 84(2), 180–192.
Kelly, A. (1978). Girls and science, Vol. 9. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International.
Lafollette, M.C. (1992). Beginning with the audience. In B.V. Lewenstein (Ed.) When science meets
the public (pp. 33–42). Washington, DC: AAAS.
Lloyd-Smith, M., & Tarr, J. (2000). Researching children’s perspectives: A sociological dimension.
In A. Lewis, & G. Lindsay (Eds.) Researching children’s perspectives (pp. 59–70). Buckingham:
Open University Press.
Matthews, M. (1994). Science teaching: The role of history and philosophy of science. New York:
Murray, I., & Reiss, M. (2003). Student review of the science curriculum. Available online at: (accessed 28 June 2004).
National Science Foundation. (2000). Science and engineering indicators 2000. Available online
at: (accessed 21 June 2004).
National Science Foundation. (2002). Science and engineering indicators. Available online at: (accessed 4 August 2004).
Nisbet, M.C., Scheufele, D.A., Shanahan, J., Moy, P., Brossard, D., & Lewenstein, B.V. (2002).
Knowledge, reservations, or promise? A media effect model for public perceptions of science
and technology. Communication Research, 29(5), 584–608.
Nunn, P.T. (1925). Education: It’s data and first principles. London: Edward Arnold & Co.
Osborne, J., & Collins, S. (2000). Pupils’ and parents’ views of the school science curriculum. London:
King’s College London.
Osborne, J., & Collins, S. (2001). Pupils’ views of the role and value of the science curriculum: A
focus group study. International Journal of Science Education, 23(5), 441–467.
Osborne, J., Duschl, R., & Fairbrother, R. (2002). Breaking the mould? Teaching science for public
understanding. London: The Nuffield Foundation.
Osborne, J., Simon, S., & Collins, S. (2003). Attitudes towards science: a review of the literature
and its implications. International Journal of Science Education, 25(9), 1049–1079.
Qualter, A. (1993). I would like to know more about that: A study of the interest shown
by girls and boys in scientific topics. International Journal of Science Education, 15(3),
Rudduck, J., & Flutter, J. (2000). Pupil participation and pupil perspective: ‘Carving a new order
of experience’. Cambridge Journal of Education, 30(1), 75–89.
Ryder, J., Leach, J., & Driver, R. (1999). Undergraduate science students’ images of science.
Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 36(2), 201–219.
Shapiro, B. (1994). What children bring to light: A constructivist perspective on children’s learning in
science. New York: Teacher College Press.
Sjøberg, S. (2000a). Interesting all children in ‘science for all’. In R. Millar, J. Leach, & J. Osborne
(Eds.) Improving science education: The contribution of research (pp. 165–186). Buckingham:
Open University Press.
826 A. Baram-Tsabari and A. Yarden
Sjøberg, S. (2000b). Science and scientists: The SAS study. Available online at:
sveinsj/SASweb.htm (accessed 23 April 2004).
Sjøberg, S., & Schreiner, C. (2002). ROSE handbook: Introduction, guidelines and underlying ideas.
Available online at: (accessed 11 March
Solomon, J. (1989). Teaching the history of science: Is nothing sacred? In M. Shortland, &
A. Warwick (Eds.) Teaching the history of science (pp. 42–53). Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Spall, K., Stanisstreet, M., Dickson, D., & Boyes, E. (2004). Development of school students’
constructions of biology and physics. International Journal of Science Education, 26(7), 787–803.
Stark, R., & Gray, D. (1999). Gender preferences in learning science. International Journal of
Science Education, 21(6), 633–643.
Taber, K. S. (1991). Gender differences in science preferences on starting secondary school.
Research in Science & Technological Education, 9(2), 245–251.
Tamir, P., & Gardner, P.L. (1989). The structure of interest in high school biology. Research in
Science & Technological Education, 7(2), 113–140.
Trumper, R. (2004). Israeli students’ interest in physics and its relation to their attitudes towards science
and technology and to their own science classes. Paper presented at the IOSTE XI Symposium,
Lublin, Poland, 25–30 July.
Watson, J., Mcewen, A., & Dawson, S. (1994). Sixth form A level students’ perceptions of the
difficulty, intellectual freedom, social benefit and interest of science and arts subjects. Research
in Science & Technological Education, 12(1), 43–52.
Weinburgh, M. (1995). Gender differences in student attitudes toward science: A meta-analysis of
the literature from 1970 to 1991. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 32(4), 387–398.
... Looking at children and adults' faces amazed by circus performances, one can obviously expect that experiential teaching (AEE, 2011;Gorghiu & Ancuța Santi, 2016;Young et al., 2008) of physics concepts employing circus environment is of a potential to result in pedagogic outcomes, which formal frontal classes are found difficult to achieve. Indeed, numerous studies report the presence of robust misconceptions regarding physics concepts even after a thorough teaching process (for instance, Chi et al., 2012;Demirci, 2005;Ding et al., 2013;Eshach & Schwartz, 2006;Hestenes et al., 1992;Roche, 2001;Vyas, 2012). ...
... Furthermore, our previous studies conducted on university students and graduated engineers show that even after completing learning, participants have difficulties in applying theoretical knowledge to explain physical phenomena in real life, for instance, how simple devices work (Ben-Abu, 2018;Ben Abu et al., 2018;Volfson et al., 2018Volfson et al., , 2019Volfson et al., , 2021Volfson et al., , 2022. And if all these are not enough, or maybe, because of these, students, ranging from junior high (Baram-Tsabari & Yarden, 2005) up to undergraduate university level (Ornek et al., 2008), have an aversion to physics. It is our hypothesis that formal as well as informal physics teaching employing circus environment can meet these challenges. ...
... 38). This reinforces our belief that circus art and DDCT might offer a kind of cure for students' aversion to physics as reported for instance, by Baram-Tsabari and Yarden (2005) and Ornek et al. (2008). ...
Circus art excites amazes and delights. Most of circus genres are based on the principles of classical physics. Dialogic discussions are known as an instrument to identify conceptual barriers (misconceptions) and facilitate their further revision. The present study integrates the three worlds: physics education, dialogic teaching and circus art; and provides a research foundation for experiential physics teaching through dialogic discussions about circus tricks (DDCT) in formal and informal setups. It aims at examining the potential of DDCT as a tool for identifying misconceptions and facilitating conceptual change regarding physics concepts. The study encircles about 40 DDCT provided in the Israeli KESHET circus. In total, about 5,500 people watched the shows. From them, about 400 actively participated in the DDCT. We analyze in details four typical DDCT relating (a) circular motion, (b) moment of inertia, (c) torque, and (d) heat transfer. For each DDCT we demonstrate the way it pinpoints participants’ knowledge and its implementation in circus devices’ analysis. Further we examine whether and how the DDCT could facilitate developing physics knowledge and/or going through a meaningful conceptual change regarding each of these concepts. Due to our results DDCT seems to be an original and promising approach to bring advanced physics ideas to the general public, in ways that are interesting, experiential and relatively easy to understand. We finish with practical recommendations for physics educators (as well as circus artists) who would like to implement DDCT in their classes (shows).
... Na área da educação científica, uma das principais razões para investigar as experiências e pontos de vista dos alunos é a necessidade de enfrentar o interesse decrescente de muitos jovens pela ciência (BARAM-TSABARI;YARDEN, 2005). É importante, assim, identificar os aspectos que podem tornar o ensino mais atraente para os alunos, pois um estudante interessado possivelmente estará mais disposto a despender um esforço maior para aprender e se aprofundar no estudo de novos conceitos científicos (OSBORNE; SIMON;COLLINS, 2003). ...
... Na área da educação científica, uma das principais razões para investigar as experiências e pontos de vista dos alunos é a necessidade de enfrentar o interesse decrescente de muitos jovens pela ciência (BARAM-TSABARI;YARDEN, 2005). É importante, assim, identificar os aspectos que podem tornar o ensino mais atraente para os alunos, pois um estudante interessado possivelmente estará mais disposto a despender um esforço maior para aprender e se aprofundar no estudo de novos conceitos científicos (OSBORNE; SIMON;COLLINS, 2003). ...
Full-text available
Este artigo investiga algumas potencialidades didáticas do uso de histórias em quadrinhos com super-heróis em atividades de divulgação científica para trabalhar com conceitos científicos em um contexto educacional. O seu principal objetivo é analisar as formas pelas quais os quadrinhos podem ser utilizados como recurso didático para o ensino de física. Foi feita uma ampla revisão bibliográfica da literatura científica sobre o tema em teses de doutoramento, em dissertações de mestrado, em livros, em artigos de revistas especializadas e em trabalhos apresentados em congressos acadêmicos. Durante esta pesquisa foram estruturadas atividades de divulgação científica sobre conceitos de física associados às características de alguns super-heróis das histórias em quadrinhos; elas foram então realizadas junto a alunos de ensino médio de algumas escolas públicas do litoral norte paulista. As respostas dadas pelos alunos presentes a um questionário ajudaram a compreender melhor questões relacionadas ao uso de histórias em quadrinhos na educação. Os alunos, em suas respostas, se manifestaram de modo otimista acerca do uso das histórias em quadrinhos no ensino de física.
... Los hallazgos coincidieron con algunos estudios previos en cuanto a la importancia del papel de los padres, madres y parientes, y la exposición que dan a la niñez en los recursos científicos, tales como la participación en diversas actividades científicas, como hacer excursiones y ver programas científicos de televisión (Baram-Tsabari y Yarden, 2005;Chakraverty et al., 2018;Özkan y Umdu Topsakal, 2020). Durante los estudios de posgrado, hubo un cambio desde la ciencia aprendida en la escuela secundaria y hacia la ciencia practicada en el posgrado, esto es respaldado por algunos estudios como los de Kang (2020) ENERO-ABRIL, 2023: 1-15 Ahora bien, uno de los hallazgos más importantes que hace este proyecto son las vivencias en la etapa doctoral respecto al concepto de creatividad. ...
Full-text available
Objetivo. El propósito de este trabajo fue explorar cómo el estudiantado de doctorado en los Estados Unidos y Chile ha experimentado su carrera en las ciencias de la vida, y cómo ha percibido la naturaleza de la ciencia (NdeC) a lo largo de sus vidas, incluyendo sus actividades como estudiantes de doctorado trabajando en laboratorios. Metodología. El diseño narrativo de este estudio cualitativo contempló hacer entrevistas individuales del tipo historia de vida a 10 estudiantes doctorales de Chile y 10 estadounidenses, aplicándoseles un cuestionario semi-estructurado que ahondaban sobre sus experiencias al aprender ciencias desde la niñez a la adultez. El trabajo con los datos se realizó a partir de un análisis temático combinado con el uso de un software de análisis cualitativo para codificar las entrevistas transcritas. Análisis de los resultados: El análisis mostró que el proceso de socialización en la práctica de hacer ciencia fue similar para el estudiantado chileno y estadounidense en cuanto a las distintas etapas de la vida, particularmente en la etapa del doctorado, donde las personas entrevistadas se refirieron a la creatividad como una característica de la NdeC. Conclusiones. Esto plantea una reflexión sobre el rol que tiene la familia, el profesorado, la escuela, la universidad y el profesorado guías como agentes socializadores en ciencia en diversas culturas.
... Tomando como exemplo o ensino de Ciências, em geral, e da Física em particular, é significativa a reclamação e denúncia, por parte dos professores, de uma falta de interesse e motivação dos alunos para estudar e aprender Física (Ricardo, 2010). Aliado a isto, resultados atuais de pesquisas evidenciam baixa qualidade ou mesmo o declínio da motivação para aprender ciências, ao longo do processo de escolarização de jovens estudantes (Baram-Tsabari e Yarden, 2005;Park, Khan e Petrina, 2009;Krapp e Prenzel, 2011). Neste sentido, com base na teoria da autodeterminação (Deci et al., 1991;Ryan e Deci, 2000a, 2000b, realizamos inicialmente um estudo para a elaboração e validação de uma escala para medir a motivação dos estudantes para realizarem as atividades didáticas 1 nas aulas de Física do Ensino Médio (Clement et al., 2013). ...
Full-text available
A falta de interesse e de motivação dos estudantes para estudar e aprender Física é um problema educacional a ser enfrentado. O objetivo desta pesquisa foi avaliar a qualidade motivacional de 708 estudantes do ensino médio mediante a aplicação da Escala de Motivação: Atividades Didáticas de Física (EMADF), elaborada com base na teoria da autodeterminação. Realizaram-se análises comparativas entre os tipos de motivação e as variáveis: gênero, séries e localidade. Constatou-se que a motivação autônoma das meninas é maior que a dos meninos que, por sua vez, apresentaram maiores médias nos tipos de motivação controlada e na desmotivação. Evidenciou-se uma pequena redução em todos os tipos de motivação ao longo das três séries. Em relação à localidade obtiveram-se médias levemente superiores tanto na desmotivação e motivação controlada quanto na motivação autônoma entre os estudantes oriundos de uma mesma cidade. No conjunto, os resultados explicitam uma importante leitura sobre a qualidade motivacional dos estudantes para a realização das atividades nas aulas de Física, fomentando a proposição de novos estudos que possam dialogar e complementar as considerações decorrentes desta pesquisa.
... In both cases, they centre on the physical environment and on living beings. Kelemen, Callanan, Casler and Pérez-Granados (2005) found that children asked more about biological and social phenomena than other subjects, coinciding with Baram-Tsabari and Yarden (2005). In addition, among children's questions there is a considerable percentage about the human body, and some about astronomy, while among university students the percentage of questions about the human body is lower, and environmental questions become more frequent. ...
Full-text available
One of the main objectives of science education is to produce students and, in general, a society that is scientifically literate. To achieve this objective, teachers across the different educational stages must work on science at school, so it is essential that students in education degrees reach scientific competence, but for this, it would be necessary to know the questions raised by schoolchildren about natural sciences, to be able to work from their interests and confront the pre-service teachers with these questions, as well as to know the interests of the university students themselves. In this research, a case study has compiled spontaneous questions about natural sciences that pre-school students ask their parents, and they have been compared with those made by pre-service teachers. The results show that the questions are similar in terms of subject matter and complexity and that only some are investigable questions. In addition, university students are not able to answer children's questions with their own knowledge, which implies the need to work more on science in the study plans of Education degrees and help them devise strategies to work them. It is also necessary to stress that it is important not only to know the answer, but also to have the capacity to organise activities that encourage students to search for answers on their own.
... That is why Biology is taught in every school to learn the essence of life and, in addition, to connect the common learnings and new learnings and suggest methods to incorporate it in the formal learning system of formal education (Ardan et al., 2015). Study indicates that out of all science topics, learners enjoy and have a high interest in Biology (Awan et al., 2011;Baram & Yarden, 2005;Osborne & Collins, 2000;Prokop et al., 2007). However, despite the popularity of Biology among students, conceptual understanding and performance are still low (Çimer, 2004). ...
Full-text available
Teaching the students of today’s generation has been a perennial challenge for the teachers, particularly in providing these students the core competencies to be more globally competitive and functionality literate in science and in biological disciplines in particular. The purpose of this study was to determine the least mastered competencies of 10 graders in different biology competencies they learned from grade 7 to grade 10. The researchers used a quantitative descriptive cross-sectional study utilizing a self-made survey questionnaire. The respondents were 122 of 10 graders of three state-owned secondary schools in Zambales, Philippines. The findings showed that the biology competencies for seven and eight graders were the least mastered by graders. There were also significant differences of students’ least mastered competencies by school and sex. There were also significant correlations among the least mastered competencies in biology. The study recommends that science teachers may consider employing inquiry-based and hands-on learning activities to further enhance the proficiency of students in biology and decrease students’ difficulties.
Ljudsko zdravlje neraskidivo je vezano sa stanjem okoliša pa je važno iznalaziti načine kako podizati interese djece za teme zdravlja čovjeka i okoliša u kojemu živi. Upravo cilj 4. Agende 2030. daje smjernicu kako je nužno osigurati obrazovanje za održivi razvoj u pravcu promicanja održivih stilova života. Rezultati provedenog istraživanja pokazuju kako učenici osnovne škole iskazuju veći interes prema temama ljudskog zdravlja u odnosu na okolišne teme. Uočava se da u 6. razredu dječaci pokazuju statistički značajno veći interes za okolišne teme u odnosu na djevojčice, i to vezano uz nastavne sadržaje o energiji. Djevojčice općenito iskazuju statistički značajno veći interes prema okolišnim temama u odnosu na dječake. Stoga je u odgojno obrazovnom sustavu općenito, pa tako i u nastavnim predmetima Priroda i Biologija, nužno iznalaziti metode aktivnog i istraživačkog učenja koje će utjecati na povećanje interesa učenika za okolišne teme koje trenutno ne percipiraju kao posebno interesantne.
Full-text available
Pupils' perceptions of their experience of school science have rarely been investigated. The aim of the research reported in this paper, therefore, was to document the range of views that pupils held about the school science curriculum, the aspects they found either interesting and/or valuable, and their views about its future content. As such, the research aimed to articulate their views as a contribution to the debate about the future form and function of the school science curriculum. The method adopted to elicit their views was to use focus groups-a methodology that has not been extensively used in the science education research. Reported here are the findings from 20 focus groups conducted with 144 16-year-old pupils in London, Leeds and Birmingham, split both by gender and whether the pupils intended to continue, or not, with the study of science post-16. The findings of this research offer a window into pupils' perspective of school science revealing both their discontents and satisfaction with the existing curriculum. On the negative side, many pupils perceived school science to be a subject dominated by content with too much repetition and too little challenge. From a more positive perspective, pupils saw the study of science as important and were engaged by topics where they could perceive an immediate relevance, practical work, material that was challenging and high-quality teaching. The implications of these findings and the insights they provide for curriculum policy and school science curricula are discussed.
Full-text available
This wide-ranging 1975 review of the literature was based on the author's 1972 PhD thesis at Monash University and expanded during a year of work as a visiting scholar at the University of London's Centre for Science Education in 1973. The review is organised into nine sections under two broad headings. THE MEASUREMENT OF ATTITUDES 1. Attitudes to science: meaning and significance 2. Survey of types of instruments 3. Methodological issues RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER VARIABLES 4. Other educational variables 5. Personality 6. Sex 7. Structural variables 8. School variables 9. Curriculum and instructional variables. (The author, now aged 80, is delighted that 45 years later, this paper has been read or cited by several hundred other researchers.)
Excerpts from Science and Engineering Indicators 2000, the biennial report to Congress from the National Science Board, present new data on public attitudes toward and public understanding of science and technology. Selections from the chapter on the significance of information technologies (IT) are provided as well.
In 2001, The Guardian launched a competition called The School I'd Like, in which young people were asked to imagine their ideal school. This vibrant, groundbreaking book presents material drawn from that competition, offering a unique snapshot of perceptions of today's schools by those who matter most - the pupils. The book is wonderfully illuminated by children's essays, stories, poems, pictures and plans. Placing their views in the centre of the debate, it provides an evaluation of the democratic processes involved in teaching and learning by: Identifying consistencies in children's expressions of how they wish to learn. Highlighting particular sites of 'disease' in the education system today. Illustrating how the built environment is experienced by today's children. Posing questions about the reconstruction of teaching and learning for the twenty-first century. This book offers a powerful new perspective on school reform and is essential reading for all those involved in education and childhood studies, including teachers, advisors, policy-makers, academics, and anyone who believes that children's voices should not be ignored.
Studies exploring school students' views about science have not always distinguished between different branches of science. Here, the views of 1395 secondary school students aged 11-16 about physics and, as a science comparator, biology were determined using a closed-form questionnaire. Over the period of secondary schooling a decreasing proportion of students expressed a liking for physics, fewer thought it was interesting and more thought it was boring. These changes did not apply to biology. There was an increasing view that the study of physics, but not biology, required mathematical skills. Fewer students thought that physics, compared with biology, could contribute to the solution of medical or environmental problems. Suggestions that physics might offer good employment prospects did not influence students' liking of physics. Factor analysis suggested that the oldest group of students distinguished between physics and biology in terms of their general characteristics - to the detriment of physics.
School improvement, as Ruth Jonathan (1990, p. 568) has said, is not merely a matter of 'rapid response to changing market forces through a trivialised curriculum', but a question of dealing with the deep structures of school and the habits of thought and values they embody. To manage school improvement we need to look at schools from the pupils' perspective and that means tuning in to their experiences and views and creating a new order of experience for them as active participants.