Trends for kindergarten though second-grade children were identified from data collected in a longitudinal study of how children develop science concepts. The study involved approximately 325children from three school districts. A heuristic model of science learning was developed representing children's entering ability, home background, home support, teaching processes, instructional material characteristics, and end-of-year performance. Data were collected in each area, pooled, then submitted to LISREL analyses to produce a structural model for science learning at each grade level. Results showed that children's entering ability in science was the best predictor of their end-of-year science learning overall. The number of hours fathers worked was related to entering ability for kindergarten children, with fathers of higher ability children working more hours. Mothers' education level had by far the highest loadings at all grade levels; mothers' occupation, the lowest. Children's participation in science-related home activities made the greatest contribution to end-of-year performance for all grades, whereas experiences with adults and the number of books and magazines in the home affected only kindergartners' performances. No teaching variable had a significant relationship to end-of-year performance of kindergartners, but teachers' use of sustained feedback after children's incorrect responses was a significant factor in first graders' performance. Time spent in science activities and teachers' uses of science application questions contributed significantly to the performance of second graders. Teachers' coverage of content contributed negatively to end-of-year performance for both first and second graders.
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