WHO IS AFRAID OF INSECTS? A DIDACTIC RESEARCH IN THE BIOLOGICAL FIELD IN KINDERGARTEN
University of Padova (ITALY)
About this paper:
Conference name: 10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2018
Location: Palma, Spain
Abstract:The present didactic research deals with the teaching in kindergarten of a particular branch of the Biology, namely entomology, which is poorly considered in Italian school system in this age range. Two main targets were pursued, one connected to the didactics of Biology and the other related to the psychological area. The first didactic aim was the possibility to deal with animal morphology (insects, in this case) with 5-year-old children through laboratory teaching. As far as the psychological field, we assume that the perceptions that children have towards the insects could be changed through learning. Thanks to the increased knowledge of insects, we hypothesized that the sensations of fear and disgust that some children perceive towards them could be mitigated. The research was carried out within a kindergarten of Padua (Italy), involving twelve children, with a total duration of nineteen hours. The focus of the teaching program was on the study of insects, in particular of their morphology, by using a laboratory didactics and the scientific method (observational-comparative approach). We decided to use active methodologies, in order to promote the didactics of skills and to make the students protagonists of their learning process. The steps of the teaching program were: detection of children pre-knowledge about insects; observation of various common dry prepared insects (pinned or glued), firstly by naked eye, then with magnifying glass and finally through the use of the stereomicroscope; an exit in the garden to discover the places where the insects live and to observe their motions; a final group discussion and a time of objective evaluation, self-evaluation and collecting the satisfaction. Before the lessons, a questionnaire on fear and disgust of insects was given to the students and it was proposed again at the end of the lessons to compare the collected data and carry out a Repeated Measures Analysis of Variance (ANOVA). Thanks to this questionnaire, it has been possible to demonstrate that by increasing the knowledge of insects, the fear that is felt towards them decreases in a statistical significant way, while disgust remains almost unchanged. This non-significant result may be due to the limited number of the experimental samples and, therefore, it will be interesting to propose again a research with a greater number of samples to validate this aspect. This experimental work proves that insect morphology and the interactions of these animals with the environment can be a topic to be developed with the 5-year-old children of the kindergarten. Moreover, it demonstrates that children perception towards the natural world can be influenced by the increasing of knowledge.
Keywords: Biology, disgust, fear, insects, kindergarten, laboratory didactics, observational-comparative method, zoology.