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The research catalogue is an archive of ESRC-funded grants and outputs. Links, files and other content will no longer be maintained or updated after April 2014.

Primary school children's tacit and explicit understanding of object motion

The project is concerned with primary school children's explicit and tacit understanding of object motion. Explicit understanding is the knowledge that is engaged when reasoning about motion, eg when planning actions, predicting outcomes, or interpreting events. Explicit understanding of object motion prior to tuition is not merely a poor proxy for the received wisdom of science; in some respects, it is also contradictory.

Tacit understanding is the knowledge that underpins implicit expectations of how objects move and surprise when expectations are violated. Expectations that are consistent with Newtonian mechanics have been detected from infancy onwards, although the extent of orthodoxy at the tacit level is currently unclear.

The project aims to -

  • Contrast explicit and tacit knowledge in primary school children, to establish how far misconceptions at the explicit level are matched by orthodox expectations at the tacit level.
  • Contribute to an appropriate theoretical model of how the two forms of knowledge are related.
  • Explore how the relation can be exploited for teaching.

As such, the project will help to bridge the current gap between cognitive developmental and science education research