Design för lärande: barns meningsskapande i naturvetenskap.

Fristorp, A.E.
Ph.d.-afhandling. Stockholm universitet.


The purpose of the study is to describe and analyse the design of natural science learning environments. Moreover, focus is on examining how children in daycare, pre-school class and basic school create meaning from the teaching tools used in natural science activities planned by the early childhood educators/teachers. In addition, the study aims to shed light on how the design of learning environments and children’s meaning-making can be interpreted and understood through their learning. The researcher specifically wishes to answer the following four questions: 1) How is the natural science learning environment designed in two different daycare facilities? 2) How do the children create meaning in this learning context? 3) What interaction patterns can be identified between the children themselves, and between children and educators, in connection with natural science activities? 4) How can the design of the learning environment and children’s meaning-making be interpreted and understood?


The results show that, considering the number of children in the three groups, only few children actually participate in the natural science learning contexts. Furthermore, the study also shows that, regardless of whether the children choose to participate, and regardless of their own areas of interest, overall organisational principles such as the age of the children play a crucial role for the child’s participation in, and meaning-making with regard to, natural science activities. A clear, formalised setting of the natural science learning context can be linked to a natural science discourse that matches the objectives of the natural science activities. The results also reveal that children create representations, both individually and together, in new or different ways. Children’s verbal expressions, that corresponded to what the early childhood educators were expecting of them, were much appreciated and were acknowledged as knowhow. However, according to the author, this means that there is a risk of the teachers overlooking many of the potential meanings inherent in children’s meaning-making in a natural-science-learning situation. Another important finding from the study is that children shaped their learning processes and framed natural science phenomena in ways that the early childhood educators were not expecting. This demonstrates the children’s own knowledge production and motivation to become involved in the natural science activities.


The study is based on video footage of three groups of children from two daycare facilities and a school in different municipalities. The three groups consist of 19 children (daycare), 19 children (daycare) and 14 children (pre-school class). Moreover, four early childhood educators also participated in the study. The researchers observed some of the children more than others. A total of 27 children participated in a microanalysis of the interplay between children and between children and educators. The video footage was transcribed and analysed drawing on a theoretical frame of reference that is based on multi-modal and design-oriented theory and focuses on the creative dimension of learning and the finer details of how learning takes place.


Fristorp, A.E. (2012). Design för lärande: barns meningsskapande i naturvetenskap. Ph.d.-afhandling. Stockholms universitet.

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