Date of Submission



This is a report into the investigation of the learning and teaching of time in the middle years of primary school. The study began with the identification of the major Components for a clear understanding of time by investigating the purposes for and tools by which time has been measured over the centuries. Having identified the major Components of time as Awareness of time, Succession, Duration and Measurement of time, key ideas that gave additional information about each major Component were drawn from the literature and listed.

A Framework for the Learning and Teaching of Time was developed incorporating each of the major Components and the accompanying key ideas. To investigate what students in Years 3 and 4 understood about time, a one-to-one task based interview was developed and trialled based on the major Components of Succession, Duration and Measurement of time. An Awareness of time was deemed to be incorporated into each item as students in Year 3 and 4 were assumed to have an understanding of Awareness of time. The responses given by the students to each interview item were scored according to pre-determined responses; 2 points for a response that demonstrated a clear understanding, 1 point for demonstrating a partial understanding, and 0 points if no understanding was demonstrated.

Twenty-seven students from a Year 3/4 class in a Victorian regional city school were interviewed using the one-to-one task based interview as a means of ascertaining the understanding of time students at this year level could demonstrate. The responses to each interview item were analysed with the lowest scoring items being considered the most challenging items. Following design research methodology an eight-lesson intervention for the Year 3/4 class was planned and implemented focussing on the lowest scoring items from the students’ interview scores. Post-intervention interviews were conducted three weeks after the intervention with the results of each student and each item compared. Each student increased their total scores, although not all students improved on every item. The lessons were analysed to identify the pedagogies and experiences that appeared to enhance student understanding.

Introducing each lesson with the reading of a children’s book that focussed on the lesson foci; physical involvement; manipulating materials and equipment; the use of correct terminology; group work, discussion, self-reflections on their learning; and sufficient time to complete a variety of activities were shown to be advantageous to the students’ learning.

This research provides insights into Year 3 and 4 students’ understanding of time. It is of benefit to both teachers and researchers as it gives greater direction to the learning and teaching of time than has been previously available.


School of Education

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


337 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Faculty of Education and Arts