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Consolidating understanding of variation as part of STEM: experimenting with plant growth


Watson, J and Wright, S and Fitzallen, N and Kelly, B, Consolidating understanding of variation as part of STEM: experimenting with plant growth, Mathematics Education Research Journal ISSN 1033-2170 (2022) [Refereed Article]

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© 2022. The Authors. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License (, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

DOI: doi:10.1007/s13394-022-00421-1


Integrated STEM activities are espoused as appropriate for enhancing student learning in relation to statistical concepts; however, a greater understanding of the way in which studentsí ideas about those concepts develop is needed to maximise the learning potential offered by engagement in STEM activities. For this study, plant growth was chosen as a topic from the Year 6 Australian Science Curriculum as an appropriate context to employ aspects of the four STEM disciplines to explore studentsí developing ideas about variation. Sixty-four Year 6 students across three school terms worked in groups of four to trial various treatments and their effects on the growth of radish or wheat seeds. This report considers two aspects of student learning related to this topic based on (i) the formative assessment of features of studentsí workbook entries specifically related to variation during the part of the classroom activity based on their TinkerPlots graphs and (ii) the later summative evidence of learning in responses to end-of-year questions on the activity for 56 of the students. The workbook entries are presented via a qualitative analysis to provide evidence of the forming of understanding of variation in a STEM context, with the SOLO Taxonomy being employed to assess the longer-term evidence and developmental nature of that learning. Overall, a broader picture has emerged of the potential for developing appreciation of variation in a STEM context in primary school.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:STEM, grade 5, plant growth
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Curriculum and pedagogy
Research Field:Mathematics and numeracy curriculum and pedagogy
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Learner and learning
Objective Field:Primary education
UTAS Author:Watson, J (Professor Jane Watson)
UTAS Author:Wright, S (Mrs Suzie Wright)
UTAS Author:Fitzallen, N (Dr Noleine Fitzallen)
UTAS Author:Kelly, B (Mr Ben Kelly)
ID Code:154013
Year Published:2022
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DP150100120)
Deposited By:Office of the Faculty of Education
Deposited On:2022-10-23
Last Modified:2022-11-23
Downloads:5 View Download Statistics

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