Article

Science Starts Early

Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520-8205, USA.
Science (Impact Factor: 31.48). 02/2011; 331(6020):1022-3. DOI: 10.1126/science.1195221
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Infants and young children can exhibit striking confusion about how the world works, from failing to grasp that wind causes
waves, to being mystified about how babies are created. Indeed, some researchers have characterized a child's knowledge of
the world as a bundle of misconceptions awaiting replacement with correct concepts through education (1).

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    • "Decades of research in cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, and science education have dispelled the myth that students enter the science classroom as ''empty vessels'' ready to be filled with knowledge. Rather, they enter with rich, pre-instructional theories of the domain-relevant phenomena that often interfere with learning (Carey, 2000; Keil, 2011; Vosniadou, 1994). In the domain of mechanics, for instance, students hold theories of motion predicated on the belief that forces are transferred from one object to another upon contact and must dissipate before objects can come to a rest (Clement, 1982; McCloskey, 1983). "
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    • "Moreover, it would have to involve a demonstration of the basic tenet of causal modeling in science that covariation or correlation does not necessarily signify a causal relation. This is all the more important because correlation is taken as a sign of causality from very early in infancy (Keil 2011) and is part of everyday misconceptions of causal relations (Vosniadou 2008). A model of these relations would be helpful in directing the student how to manipulate the relations between factors in order to explore them and to interpret the results of experimentation. "
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    ABSTRACT: This essay first summarizes an overarching theory of cognitive organization and development. This theory claims that the human mind involves (1) several specialized structural systems dealing with different domains of relations in the environment, (2) a central representational capacity system, (3) general inferential processes, and (4) consciousness. These systems interact dynamically during development so that changes in each are related to changes in others. The changes in all systems and the change mechanisms are described. This theory integrates research and theorizing from cognitive, developmental, and differential psychology. Based on this theory, a model for education is proposed that specifies, first, educational priorities for different phases of development according to the cognitive developmental milestones associated with each phase. The theory also specifies how education can educate students to (1) construct mental models for the sake of conceptual change, (2) use their central representational capacity efficiently, (3) advance analogical and deductive reasoning, (4) learn how to learn, and (5) become critical and creative thinkers. The theory is offered as an overarching paradigm for the architecture, the development, and the education of the human mind. KeywordsAssessment–Cognitive development–Conceptual change–Consciousness–Critical thinking–Education–Intelligence–Learning to learn–Mental models–Metarepresentation–Reasoning–Working memory
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