Children enter classrooms with prior knowledge imparted to them by their caregivers—language, ways of behaving, stories about their family history, and life skills (Barros et al., in press). For Indigenous children growing up in their ancestral lands, this prior knowledge can also include a developing understanding of their surrounding ecosystems. As such, increasing our understanding of children’s knowledge and reasoning about the places, specifically with respect to the natural world, will enable the development of more effective curricular materials and teaching practices.
The purpose of this study was to investigate children’s ecological reasoning about their natural world and was driven by the following research questions:
Through this work, researchers hoped to build an increasing understanding of Pacific Islands children’s knowledge and reasoning about the places where they live, specifically with respect to the natural world, to enable the development of more effective curricular materials and teaching practices. Further, this study could potentially contribute to broadening learning science research in the context of Indigenous communities, especially related to place-based designs for learning that could be used to enhance similar student learning opportunities.
The research in this area is still evolving, however, and PCEP pursued this study to provide a meaningful contribution to the understanding of students’ ecological reasoning in times of a changing climate.