UCL Discovery
UCL home » Library Services » Electronic resources » UCL Discovery

Children's reasoning about continuous causal processes: The role of verbal and non-verbal ability

Dündar-Coecke, S; Tolmie, A; Schlottmann, A; (2019) Children's reasoning about continuous causal processes: The role of verbal and non-verbal ability. British Journal of Educational Psychology 10.1111/bjep.12287. (In press). Green open access

[img]
Preview
Text
D-ndar-Coecke_et_al-2019-British_Journal_of_Educational_Psychology.pdf - Published version

Download (700kB) | Preview

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Causes produce effects via underlying mechanisms that must be inferred from observable and unobservable structures. Preschoolers show sensitivity to mechanisms in machine-like systems with perceptually distinct causes and effects, but little is known about how children extend causal reasoning to the natural continuous processes studied in elementary school science, or how other abilities impact on this. AIMS: We investigated the development of children's ability to predict, observe, and explain three causal processes, relevant to physics, biology, and chemistry, taking into account their verbal and non-verbal ability. SAMPLE: Children aged 5-11 years (N = 107) from London and Oxford, with wide ethnic/linguistic variation, drawn from the middle/upper socioeconomic status (SES) range. METHODS: Children were tested individually on causal tasks focused on sinking, absorption, and dissolving, using a novel approach in which they observed contrasting instances of each, to promote attention to mechanism. Further tasks assessed verbal (expressive vocabulary) and non-verbal (block design) ability. RESULTS: Reports improved with age, though with differences between tasks. Even young participants gave good descriptions of what they observed. Causal explanations were more strongly related to observation than to prediction from prior knowledge, but developed more slowly. Non-verbal but not generic verbal ability predicted performance. CONCLUSIONS: Reasoning about continuous processes is within the capacity of children from school entry, even using verbal reports, though they find it easier to address more rapid processes. Mechanism inference is uncommon, with non-verbal ability an important influence on progress. Our research is the first to highlight this key factor in children's progress towards thinking about scientific phenomena.

Type: Article
Title: Children's reasoning about continuous causal processes: The role of verbal and non-verbal ability
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/bjep.12287
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/bjep.12287
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: Causal inference, causal mechanisms, continuous causal processes, development of causal reasoning, non-verbal ability, verbal ability
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Psychology and Human Development
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10074504
Downloads since deposit
59Downloads
Download activity - last month
Download activity - last 12 months
Downloads by country - last 12 months

Archive Staff Only

View Item View Item