The development of the curriculum from the perspective of primary school teachers. Human nutrition
Universidade da Coruña, UDC, Spain
Supervisors: Dra. Cristina Martínez Losada and Dra. Susana García Barros
The objective of this research is to offer a revision of the thinking of working and trainee Primary School Teachers, with regard to the teaching of human nutrition. Specifically, it attempts to discover which aspects are given more importance and to what extent a universal idea of nutrition is promoted. Also, comparisons are established between that which each collective deems important with regard to the teaching of human nutrition and the content they teach/would teach and that which they evaluate/would evaluate.
To develop this general objective, we have suggested a methodology which combines various techniques and instruments:
a) A closed questionnaire was used for the two collectives, in order to obtain a general view of their teaching thought. More specifically, this questionnaire was used to find out the position of the trainee and working teachers in terms of the importance of developing certain knowledge of human nutrition in Primary School Education.
b) An open questionnaire and the classroom activities carried out by the teachers in training were used to discover which ideas on teaching human nutrition were produced spontaneously.
c) An interview, the teaching materials and the evaluation instruments used by the working teachers were used to delve into the teaching thoughts and actions of the teachers.
In order to analyse the data, dossiers inspired by a systematic network model were created. This model allows a gradual opening up into a broad conceptual diversification from lesser to greater specificity, as required to address the general concept of human nutrition. In the creation of the dossiers, born in mind were the historical revision, the ideas of the students and that which school science determines should be taught with regard to this scientific topic.
In terms of the results of the research, the work shows that the teaching of human nutrition suffers some deficiencies, such as the inadequate relation between the various content that is taught. Teaching is still carried out in a compartmented and biased way, studying each system involved separately. Therefore, more attention is paid to specific details than to the establishment of connections to nutritional function. The aforementioned makes it harder for students to obtain a comprehensive vision of the function of nutrition, one which would make sense of the specific functions of each of the systems (obtaining of substances from the environment, transformation into nutrients, their transportation and distribution through the blood to the cells and the elimination of waste substances produced in the cells and transported by the blood).
The participants said that they teach the four systems involved in human nutrition descriptively. This teaching should also be carried out with justifications, allowing students to relate the function of each system with the ultimate aim of nutrition (obtaining energy and the synthesis of specific materials which allow the organism to endure as a living system).
Teachers also made reference to healthy habits related to feeding, although the addressing of healthy behaviour was incomplete as feeding was not associated with nutrition. Elsewhere, the relationship of human nutrition to the environment and social implications were not particularly taken into account by the teachers. This fact is coherent with the scant relevance that this topic is given by the text books. All of this demonstrates that teachers tend to focus human nutrition on the individual, its individual decisions and their repercussion on its health and wellbeing. The participants did not take into account that wellbeing is directly related to sustainable development, maintenance of the environment and resources and, of course, social wellbeing, which is attained with social justice that guarantees a fair and equal distribution of food throughout the world.
With regard to the comparison between the two collectives, differences were detected in the value given to ideas associated with the relationship between feeding/nutrition and the environment, as these were taken into account less by the professionals. With regard to the content to be taught, the decisions/opinions of the professionals, with certain exceptions, showed more suitable levels than those of the teachers in training. This is justified by the inexperience of the latter. Finally, in terms of the evaluation of the content, the professionals were more classical that the trainees. The future teachers addressed the environmental aspect of nutrition and this is an innovation. Conversely, the questions asked by the working teachers were especially directed at more traditional aspects associated with the knowledge of the systems.
Therefore, the results of this research constitute a wake-up call for teacher training, both initial and permanent, as they show the inability of teaching staff to change priorities with regard to the selection of content.
This article was subsidized by the Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación EDU2011-27772
Full reference of the thesis
Rivadulla López, J. C. (2013). El desarrollo del currículum desde la perspectiva del profesorado de Educación Primaria. La nutrición humana (Doctoral Thesis). Universidade da Coruña, A Coruña. Extracted from http://dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/tesis?codigo=39385 (20/12/2014).
Findings from the thesis are published:
García Barros, S., Martínez Losada, C. & Rivadulla López, J. C. (2010). La percepción medioambiental del profesorado de Primaria en el tema de la nutrición humana. Revista Eureka sobre Enseñanza y Divulgación de las Ciencias, Nº Extraordinario(7), 286-296.
Rivadulla López, J. C., C. Martínez Losada, C. & González Rodríguez, C. (2009). ¿Qué deben saber los niños de Educación Primaria sobre la nutrición humana según los maestros en formación? Enseñanza de las Ciencias, Nº Extra VIII Congreso Internacional sobre Investigación en la Didáctica de las Ciencias, 920-925.
Rivadulla López, J. C., García Barros, S. & Martínez Losada, C. (2013). La enseñanza de la nutrición humana en Educación Primaria desde una perspectiva medioambiental. AmbientalMente Sustentable, 1(15-16), 19-29.
Dr. Juan Carlos Rivadulla López
Adress: Facultade de Ciencias da Educación
Departamento de Pedagoxía e Didáctica Universidade da Coruña
Campus de Elviña, s/n. CP 15071,
A Coruña, España.
Telephone: 981167000 (4700)