This book explores current research on young children’s beliefs and knowledge about the biological world – otherwise known as ‘folkbiology’. Contributors discuss factors that shape the development of folkbiological knowledge, as well as possible interventions designed to counteract cognitive biases that can interfere with the development of scientifically informed reasoning about natural phenomena.
Taken together, the papers provide insights into the contributions of cognitive biases to the development of biological misunderstandings and into the life experiences and contexts that can contribute to or impede accurate learning of biological concepts. As part of a wider literature, the insights provided by the authors are relevant to the design of educational experiences that will foster children’s exploration and further their understanding of life science ideas.
The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of Early Education and Development.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Young Children’s Developing Understanding of the Biological World 1. “Inhabitants of the Earth”: Reasoning About Folkbiological Concepts in Wichi Children and Adults 2. Generation Conservation: Children’s Developing Folkbiological and Moral Conceptions of Protecting Endangered Species 3. Direct Experience With Nature and the Development of Biological Knowledge 4. Young Chinese Children’s Justifications of Plants as Living Things 5. Children’s Cognitive and Behavioral Reactions to an Autonomous Versus Controlled Social Robot Dog
6. Are Prompts Provided by Electronic Books as Effective for Teaching Preschoolers a Biological Concept as Those Provided by Adults? 7. Changing Minds With the Story of Adaptation: Strategies for Teaching Young Children About Natural Selection 8. Children’s Ability to Learn Evolutionary Explanations for Biological Adaptation 9. Using Animals to Teach Children Biology: Exploring the Use of Biological Explanations in Children’s Anthropomorphic Storybooks 10. Body and soul: Do children distinguish between foods when generalizing biological and psychological properties?
Peter J. Marshall is Professor of Psychology and Chair of the Department of Psychology at Temple University, USA. His research interests center on cognitive and social development in infancy and early childhood. He has published on various areas of developmental science including the ways in which young children understand the functioning of the brain. His theoretical writings also include a biologically inspired approach to the interface of psychology and neuroscience, with an emphasis on the embodied nature of mental life.
Kimberly Brenneman is a program officer for education at the Heising-Simons Foundation, USA. Prior to joining the foundation in 2015, Kimberly was research faculty at Rutgers University’s National Institute for Early Education Research. At Rutgers, she led projects focused on curricular and instructional practices and resources that foster science, technology, engineering, and mathematics learning for young children in school and home settings. As an educational consultant, Kimberly contributes to the development of educational media resources to support preschool-aged math and science learners.