On the Continuity of Life. Teaching and learning about the life cycles of plants and animals – a case study in grade 5.

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The aim of this thesis is to contribute to increased understanding of teaching and learning about life cycles, when the teaching is based on living organismsand the teacher is introduced to ideas of research on pupils’ ideas andformative assessment. This aim is addressed by investigating the pupils’learning as well as their experiences of the living organisms, inquiring intothe teachers’ competence and by describing the actual teaching.

It is based on a case study of one teacher teaching two groups of pupils duringtwo different terms. There are two years between the end of the first study andthe beginning of the second. The pupils’ learning of aspects of life cycles andexperiences of the living organisms are investigated by tests before and aftereach teaching period and, for the last group of pupils, by written tasks duringteaching. The teacher’s competence is mainly investigated by interviewsbefore and after teaching. The teaching is described through the teacher’sdiary and through classroom observations.

The analysis shows that the pupils learn about aspects of life cycles and thatthe pupils in the second study, seem to have learnt some of the aspects in amore correct and in a more qualitatively developed way than the previousgroup of pupils. It is also clear that the teacher has developed her competenceto teach this content area, and that her teaching has changed during the periodof the study. Possibly one reason for this is her increased use of formativeassessment. It is also evident that the teaching and learning is rich in aestheticexperiences and that the pupils care about the organisms they are lookingafter. Apart from having a possible effect on cognitive learning, this mightpromote a care for nature, which means that learning about life cycles couldplay a part in education for sustainable development.


Life cycles, plants, animals, insects, cognition and aesthetics,teaching and learning, pedagogical content knowledge,formative assessment, education for sustainable development.

ISBN: 978-91-7346-460-0

The whole thesis (Swedish with a summary in English )


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