Elementary School Pupils’ Knowledge and Misconceptions about Birds

Milan Kubiatko* Muhammet Usak** Eva Pecusova***

  • Institute for Research in School Education, Faculty of Education, Masaryk University, Porici 31, 603 00 Brno, Czech Republic.


Problem Statement: Birds are an inseparable part of nature, with an important function. Pupils’ knowledge is influenced by their own experiences, but mostly by the school environment. From this it is evident that schools can play an important role in forming pupils’ environmental attitudes and can encourage them to join in conservationist activities.

Purpose of Study: This study focused on investigating students’ knowledge and misconceptions about birds. The main goal was to find out elementary school pupils’ perceptions of birds.

Methods: Pupils’ knowledge and misconceptions were evaulated using a self-constructed knowledge test consisting of 30 questions, twelve of which were open-ended while the rest were multiple choice. Questionnaires were prepared with respect to Slovakian elementary science schools’ curriculum concerning birds. The partipating students, 719 in total, attended seven Slovakian elementary schools. Their ages ranged from ten to sixteen. Statistical procedures were based on the comparison of results between boys and girls, between respondents from villages and from towns, between pet-owners and non-pet owners and among pupils of classes from Slovakian elementary schools grades 5 to 9.

Findings and Results: The overall results showed that Slovakian elementary school pupils had serious problems with birds. Wrong ideas occur in all dimensions, and pupils of all age groups gave incorrect answers. Questions were distributed in five dimensions: 1. Identification of birds, 2. Reproduction of birds, 3. Food of birds, 4. Bird’s senses, and 5. Bird migration. Girls achieved statistically significant higher scores than boys. Pupils who went through the curriculum about birds in elementary school were more successful than pupils who did not. The effects of residence (in towns or in villages) and pets were not significant.

Conclusions and Recommendations: Data confirm the view that children do not come to primary science lessons as a ‘tabula rasa’ but come with rich knowledge about their physical world based on their everyday experiences. Recommendations suggested in the conclusion chapter of the paper focus on the implications for education.

Keywords: Birds; Elementary School Pupils; Knowledge Test; Misconceptions.