Parents Scientific Talking to Children

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How children learn scientific thinking from their parents

The key finding is that parents’ greater use of an evaluativist stance was strongly related to the amount that their children talked about evidence, explaining 49 per cent of the variance.

Researchers in California have uncovered preliminary evidence for the way children acquire scientific “habits of thought” from their parents…

Parents’ comments on these topics were categorised according to whether they were:

  • “absolutist” (one side of an argument is stated dogmatically as fact)
  • “multiplist” (a relativist stance, where each side’s view is equally valid)
  • “evaluativist” (a scientific stance that integrates evidence to decide on an issue)…

The researchers found that the parents’ approach varied according to the topic, as well as their child’s age and gender.  For instance, parents of girls tended to be more absolutist when talking about morals than were the parents of boys. In contrast, boys’ parents were more absolutist when talking about global warming than the parents of girls. Meanwhile, younger children were more likely to hear absolutist statements about Pluto than older children. “These findings show that children of different ages and genders may be likely to hear different patterns of absolutist talk depending on the topic,” the researchers said.

Ultimately, Luce and her colleagues were interested in how the parents’ stance towards knowledge (absolutist, multiplist or evaluativist) was related to their children’s talk about evidence.

The key finding is that parents’ greater use of an evaluativist stance was strongly related to the amount that their children talked about evidence, explaining 49 per cent of the variance. Surprisingly, parents’ scientific background was not related to their child’s mentions of evidence.

“Children who are familiar with ‘habits of thinking’ that focus on evidence or justifications for ‘how you know’ may resist learning new information that is not backed up by evidence.”

excerpted from – http://bps-research-digest.blogspot.com/2013/04/how-children-learn-scientific-thinking.html

Original paper – http://psycnet.apa.org/?&fa=main.doiLanding&doi=10.1037/a0031249

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