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.
Introduction: Young Children’s Developing Understanding of the Biological World
Peter J. Marshall and Kimberly Brenneman
1. “Inhabitants of the Earth”: Reasoning About Folkbiological Concepts in Wichi Children and Adults
Andrea S. Taverna, Douglas L. Medin, and Sandra R. Waxman
2. Generation Conservation: Children’s Developing Folkbiological and Moral Conceptions of Protecting Endangered Species
Jolina H. Ruckert
3. Direct Experience With Nature and the Development of Biological Knowledge
Sarah E. Longbottom and Virginia Slaughter
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
Nadia Chernyak and Heather E. Gary
6. Are Prompts Provided by Electronic Books as Effective for Teaching Preschoolers a Biological Concept as Those Provided by Adults?
Gabrielle A. Strouse and Patricia A. Ganea
7. Changing Minds With the Story of Adaptation: Strategies for Teaching Young Children About Natural Selection
Natalie Emmons, Hayley Smith, and Deborah Kelemen
8. Children’s Ability to Learn Evolutionary Explanations for Biological Adaptation
Andrew Shtulman, Cara Neal, and Gabrielle Lindquist
9. Using Animals to Teach Children Biology: Exploring the Use of Biological Explanations in Children’s Anthropomorphic Storybooks
Megan Geerdts, Gretchen Van De Walle, and Vanessa LoBue
10. Body and soul: Do children distinguish between foods when generalizing biological and psychological properties?
Jean-Pierre Thibaut, Simone P. Nguyen, and Gregory L. Murphy