Tufts OpenCourseware
Author: Fulcrum Institute Development Team

Investigating Ideas About Heat (~4 hrs.)

Your audio or videotape allows you to look closely at your exchange with the child you interviewed to understand his (or her) ideas, the meaning of his words, and to figure out what questions encourage children to bring their own experiences and ideas to bear on their science learning. As you "listen" to your interview, in addition to figuring out the child's ideas, take a critical look at the questions you asked. The nature and effectiveness of the questions and the child's responses are inextricably linked.

A. What does the evidence reveal?

The guide you'll see below will help you analyze your interview and later organize a report. In the process of analysis, mark and annotate your transcript. You'll want to include excerpts from your transcript throughout your report - the exact wording is important. How much transcript should you include? Think back to the Erickson reading; he did not include every bit of data. He made summary statements backed up by excerpts from children's conversations or samples of their writing or drawings.

Tips for reviewing a transcript

  • Highlight your questions
  • Number the lines on your transcript
  • Use stickie notes to annotate

B. Reflect on the planning process

Look back at your plans and consider what transpired as the interview unfolded. What do you think were the strengths and weaknesses of your plan? Look at Part B in the guide below for questions to reflect upon and use to craft Part B of the report.


A Guide for Your Analysis and Reflection

Write your analysis and reflection in the Interview Analysis and Reflections.

Use the file name yourname_interview.doc.

Analysis of Your Interview

Content of the interview

  • What was it you wanted to find out?
  • What were you listening for?

Task you used to probe the child's ideas

  • What hands-on task or prompt did you provide for the child to think and talk about?

The Interview

The context
  • Tell us about the age, gender, and initials of the child (do not use the child's real name), the setting and anything else you think will help set the context.
The child predicts
  • What did you say when you asked the child to predict? (Refer to transcript and include your exact words.)
  • What was the child's prediction? (Refer to transcript)
  • What did you learn about the child's assumptions and beliefs at this point in the interview?
The child gathers evidence
  • What exactly did you say that encouraged the child to observe and to gather tangible, empirical evidence? (Refer to transcript)
  • What evidence did the child gather? What did the child notice? (Refer to transcript)
  • Did the evidence support or fail to support the child's prediction?

The child explains

  • What exactly did you say that encouraged the child to explain his or her ideas about what was going on? (Refer to transcript)
  • What was the child's explanation? (Refer to child's words from transcript)

Your interpretation

  • What did you find out about the child's scientific ideas?
  • How did the child put together his or her intuitions, prior beliefs and experiences with the evidence he or she had just gathered?
  • How do the child's ideas “fit” with what you know about how children typically think about heat and temperature?

Insights from your transcript

Choose about 10 lines from your transcript that caught your attention in some way as you probed the child's ideas, thought about your own ideas, or thought about your teaching. Copy and paste the piece of transcript you select into your Word document, add 2-3 sentences that describe why you chose this particular excerpt.


The questions you asked

Pick several questions.

  • Did your question result in the child revealing his or her thinking?
  • If so, what made the question effective? Wording? Timing? Wait time? Connection to child’s language?
  • If not, what would you do to improve question if you could ask it again?

Wearing the listener hat

  • Were you able to resist teaching?
  • What are some strategies you might use to improve your skills as a listener/observer?

Prior planning

  • Did the planning you did ahead of time pay off? In what ways?

C. Gaining perspective

Read Teaching, Learning, and Assessing 5-12, Chapter 9, pp.123-129, Gathering evidence about children's learning. Which of the methods Harlen discusses did you include in your interview?

Rewinding the clock:

Based on your own experience and this reading, if you were to interview a child again, what changes would you make in your planning or the interview process?