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Are Inservice Elementary Teachers Prepared to Teach Fundamental Concepts of Magnets and the Behavior of Magnets?


"Magnets are commonly used around the home to hold children's school work, family photographs and decorative items to the refrigerator door. And, exploration with magnets commonly occurs in school by young children (Tolman, 1998), frequently involving tests to see which objects in the room will interact with a magnet. So, conceptually is this an easy physical science topic that is widely understood? The surprisingly limited conceptual understanding literature on magnets and the behavior of magnets indicates it is not. To the contrary, standards-based concepts on magnets and the behavior of magnets (National Research Council, 1996; American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1993) are poorly understood across a broad range of individuals (Hickey & Schibeci, 1999; Atwood & Christopher, 2000; Finley, 1986; Constantinou, Raftopoulos & Spanoudis, 2001). Perhaps deficiencies in elementary science textbooks have contributed to the problem (Barrow, 1990) for the masses, and deficiencies in methods textbooks for preservice elementary teachers (Barrow, 2000) may have been detrimental to their efforts to construct the needed understanding. "