Student reasoning while investigating plant material

  • Helena Näs Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeå University
  • Christina Ottander Department of Mathematics Technology and Science Education, Umeå University


In this project, 10-12 year old students in three classes, investigated plant material to learn more about plants and photosynthesis. The research study was conducted to reveal the students’ scientific reasoning during their work. The eleven different tasks helped students investigate plant anatomy, plant physiology, and the gases involved in photosynthesis and respiration. The study was carried out in three ordinary classrooms. The collected data consisted of audio-taped discussions, students’ notebooks, and field notes. Students’ discussions and written work, during the different plant tasks, were analysed to see how the students’ learning and understanding processes developed. The analysis is descriptive and uses categories from a modified general typology of student’s epistemological reasoning. The study shows students’ level of interest in doing the tasks, their struggle with new words and concepts, and how they develop their knowledge about plant physiology. The study confirms that
students, in this age group, develop understanding and show an interest in complicated processes in natural science, e.g. photosynthesis.