Gdp2 2013 14_3

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Gdp2 2013 14_3

  1. 1. Obstacles to learning COGNITIVE RESISTANCE TO SCIENTIFIC FACTS AND THEORIES BABIES AS SCIENTISTS? THE DIFFICULT ACQUISITION OF SCIENTIFIC CONCEPTS: CONCEPTUAL CHANGE THE ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENT OF SCIENTIFIC THINKING: BABIES AS SCIENTISTS?
  2. 2. Resistance to the theory of evolution
  3. 3. Resistance to scientific knowledge in physics & cosmology
  4. 4. Resistance to scientific knowledge in physics
  5. 5. Resistance to scientific knowledge in physics
  6. 6. Neuromyths
  7. 7. Resistance to scientific knowledge as implied in superstition and pseudo-scientific claims
  8. 8. • Feynman, 1974 During the Middle Ages there were all kinds of crazy ideas, such as that a piece of rhinoceros horn would increase potency… Then a method was discovered for separating the ideas – which was to try one to see if it worked, and if it didn’t work, to eliminate it. This method became organized, of course, into science. And it developed very well, so that we are now in the scientific age. It is such a scientific age, in fact, that we have difficulty in understanding how witch doctors could ever have existed, when nothing that they proposed ever really worked – or very little of it did. But even today I meet lots of people who sooner or later get me into a conversation about UFOs or astrology, or some form of mysticism, expanded consciousness, new types of awareness, ESP, and so forth. And I’ve concluded that it’s not a scientific world. (Feynman, 1974)
  9. 9. Obstacles to learning COGNITIVE RESISTANCE TO SCIENTIFIC FACTS AND THEORIES BABIES AS SCIENTISTS? THE DIFFICULT ACQUISITION OF SCIENTIFIC CONCEPTS: CONCEPTUAL CHANGE THE ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENT OF SCIENTIFIC THINKING
  10. 10. Scientists in the crib Observation, experimentation Curiosity Core knowledge Folk knowledge/Naï ve representations / Common sense Several mechanisms, for learning from experience
  11. 11. Core knowledge Human cognition is founded, in part, on four systems for representing objects, actions, number, and space. It may be based, as well, on a fifth system for representing social partners. Each system has deep roots in human phylogeny and ontogeny, and it guides and shapes the mental lives of adults. Converging research on human infants, non-human primates, children and adults in diverse cultures can aid both understanding of these systems and attempts to overcome their limits. Objects Actions Number Space Social partners
  12. 12. Folk knowledge/Naï ve representations / Common sense All of us, from the most sophisticated adults to the youngest children, often engage in what is commonly called ‘‘folk science,’’ that is, certain ways of understanding the natural and artificial world that arise more informally and not as direct reflections of formal instruction in scientific principles (Carey, 1988). There is now extensive work on how children and adults have developed folk psychologies (Wellman, 1990), folk physics (Proffitt, 1999; Vosniadou, 2001), and folk biologies (Inagaki & Hatano, 2002), as well as some indications of folk sciences in such areas as the behaviors of materials and substances (folk chemistry; Au, 1994), the behaviors of heavenly bodies (folk cosmology; Siegal, Butterworth, & Newcombe, 2004), and the nature of value transactions (folk economics; Lakshminaryanan, Chen, & Santos, 2008). Folk physics Folk biology Folk psychology Folk social psychology Folk chemistry
  13. 13. The main source of resistance to scientific ideas concerns what children know prior to their exposure to science. The last several decades of developmental psychology has made it abundantly clear that humans do not start off as "blank slates." Rather, even one year-olds possess a rich understanding of both the physical world (a "naïve physics") and the social world (a "naïve psychology"). Babies know that objects are solid, that they persist over time even when they are out of sight, that they fall to the ground if unsuorted, and that they do not move unless acted upon. They also understand that people move autonomously in response to social and physical events, that they act and react in accord with their goals, and that they respond with appropriate emotions to different situations. (Bloom & Weisberg, 2007) The head start model
  14. 14. These intuitions give children a head start when it comes to understanding and learning about objects and people. But these intuitions also sometimes clash with scientific discoveries about the nature of the world, making certain scientific facts difficult to learn. As Susan Carey once put it, the problem with teaching science to children is "not what the student lacks, but what the student has, namely alternative conceptual frameworks for understanding the phenomena covered by the theories we are trying to teach. (Bloom & Weisberg 2007) The head start model
  15. 15. Folk knowledge/Naï ve representations / Common sense Without explicit instruction in such areas, people seem to develop domain-specific ways of thinking about relatively bounded sets of phenomena such as the behavior of solid objects, living kinds, and the minds of others. These domain-specific understandings have been referred to as ‘‘intuitive theories’’ or ‘‘naıve theories,’’ on the assumption that they reflect sets of beliefs that cohere in a manner that resembles, in important respects, scientific theories (Carey, 1985; Carey & Spelke, 1996; Slaughter & Gopnik, 1996). (Keil, 2010, p. 826-827).
  16. 16. What are the components of children’s biological-knowledge system before systematic teaching at school? Can this knowledge system be called naive biology? We propose that young children’s biological- knowledge system has at least two essential components—(a) the knowledge needed to identify biological entities and phenomena and (b) teleological and vitalistic causality— and that these components constitute a form of biology. We discuss how this naive biology serves as the basis for per- formance and learning in socially and culturally impor- tant practices, such as health practices and biology instruction. (Inagaki & Hatano 2006, p. 78) Pre-instructional knowledge in biology
  17. 17. Obstacles to learning COGNITIVE RESISTANCE TO SCIENTIFIC FACTS AND THEORIES BABIES AS SCIENTISTS? THE DIFFICULT ACQUISITION OF SCIENTIFIC CONCEPTS: CONCEPTUAL CHANGE THE ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENT OF SCIENTIFIC THINKING
  18. 18. Misconceptions & the conceptual change model All good teachers have always realized that one must start “where the student is.” Since the 1960s, we have come to a completely new understanding of what this means. Back then, it was defined in terms of what the student lacked, and this was seen as a lack of science content knowledge, combined with age-related limitations in general cognitive capacities (e.g., the elementary school child is a concrete thinker not capable of abstract reasoning). Now we understand that the main barrier to learning the curricular materials we so painstakingly developed is not what the student lacks, but what the student has, namely, alternative conceptual frameworks for understanding the phenomena covered by the theories we are trying to teach. Often these conceptual frameworks work well for children, so we face a problem of trying to change theories and concepts. (Carey 2000)
  19. 19. Uncontroversial: • Students arrive to instruction with prior ideas/knowledge • Prior ideas constrain successive learning • For good and for worst An open debate on (mis)-conceptions and change Controversial: • Are all preconceptions misconceptions? • Are preconceptions concepts? Are they structured in theories? • In what consists the change? • What changes? • How does change occurs? • What is the positive role of preconceptions? • How can the research be used for informing practice?
  20. 20. • misconceptions are blocking or filtering new acquisitions, they are coherent and organized in theory- like structures • transformation (radical, non- cumulative, change of perspective in which one concept is given out for another, incommensurability between conceptual systems) • conflict between old and new views, and of the experience of conflict as the necessary and sufficient condition for fueling the transformation. – 2 main influences : • Thomas Kuhn • Jean Piaget Radical Version . Rather, preschool children have constructed a very different theoretical framework from that held by adults, in which they have embedded their understanding of animals, just as children of elementary school age have constructed a different framework theory in which they embed their understanding of the material world. (Carey 2000)
  21. 21. • Radical view of what changes = – theories (e.g. Susan Carey, Alison Gopnik) that contain concepts – ontologies have to change too (e.g. Magdalene Chi) because resistant mistakes derive from miscategorizations not just wrong concepts • Less radical view = frameworks (e.g. Stella Vosniadou) • Theories are structured • Frameworks are less structured, internal quasi- coherent explanatory systems, presuppositions Radical Version The theory theory is the claim that children or beginning students have theories in very much the same sense that scientists have them. … With respect to another domain, theories of mind, Allison Gopnik (Gopnik & Wellman, 1994) strongly advocates the theory theory. Gopnik is fairly extreme in the parallelism she claims (while still admitting some differences between scientists and children, such as meta-cognitive awareness); others are more conservative in allowing such differences as limits in systematicity and breadth of application (Vosniadou, 2002). (DiSessa 2006, p. 7-8)
  22. 22. Radical Version • Change is produced when a conflict arises • = there are good reasons ro change one’s own mind • = learning is a rational activity Our central commitment in this study is that learning is a rational activity. That is, learning is fundamentally coming to comprehend and accept ideas because they are seen as intelligible and rational. (Posener et al, 1982, p. 212)
  23. 23. • Soft view of what changes – Knowledge in pieces or facets or p-prims (John Minstrell, Andrea DiSessa) – P-prims are many, loosely structured, sometimes highly contextual – Children are not scientists • Soft view of the nature of change – Reasons for difficulty might be the same in the absence of previous intuitions: collecting and ordinating pieces is always difficult • Soft view of how to produce change – Some facets are consistent with science and can anchor instruction (John Minstrell) – Use both conflict and analogy to produce good explanations (John Clement) – Not necessarily a rational process of transformation, but accumulation and coordination (Andrea Di Sessa) Soft Version A distinctive characteristic of the knowledge in pieces perspective is that the reasons for difficulty of change may be the same in cases where a conceptual structure evolves from scratch, compared to cases where one conceptual system emerges from a different one (theory change). (diSessa 2006, p. 14)
  24. 24. – Are children really intuitively wrong? • Or is it an artifact of how their beliefs are evaluated ? (e.g. Michael Siegal) • Isn’t it possible that at least certain misconceptions are induced by instruction? (e.g. pathetic fallacy) – Do children (and adults) really change their mind? • There’s evidence that instruction masks previous beliefs rather thn transforming them (e.g. Andrew Shtulman, Kevin Dunbar) Soft Version When students learn scientific theories that conflict with their earlier, naïve theories, what happens to the earlier theories? Are they overwritten or merely suppressed? We investigated this question by devising and implementing a novel speeded-reasoning task. Adults with many years of science education verified two types of statements as quickly as possible: statements whose truth value was the same across both naïve and scientific theories of a particular phenomenon (e.g., ‘‘The moon revolves around the Earth’’) and statements involving the same conceptual relations but whose truth value differed across those theories (e.g., ‘‘The Earth revolves around the sun’’)
  25. 25. Participants verified the latter significantly more slowly and less accurately than the former across 10 domains of knowledge (astronomy, evolution, fractions, genetics, germs, matter, mechanics, physiology, thermodynamics, and waves), suggesting that naïve theories survive the acquisition of a mutually incompatible scientific theory, coexisting with that theory for many years to follow. (Shtulman & Valcarcel 2012) Soft Version
  26. 26. Obstacles to learning COGNITIVE RESISTANCE TO SCIENTIFIC FACTS AND THEORIES BABIES AS SCIENTISTS? THE DIFFICULT ACQUISITION OF SCIENTIFIC CONCEPTS: CONCEPTUAL CHANGE THE PARADOX OF SCIENCE
  27. 27. Among the huge range of activities scientists undertake, two deserve particular attention when considering the unnaturalness of science: (1) scientists develop explanatory theories that challenge received views about empirical matters and (2) their critical assessment of those theories highly values evidence born of empirical tests. What distinguishes science is, first, the relative sophistication and systematicity it brings both to the generation of empirical evidence and to the assessment of that evidence's import for explanatory theories and, second, the pivotal roles that social and cultural arrangements--as opposed to our ordinary cognitive predilections--play in those processes. The requisite skills neither automatically come to human beings nor automatically become habits of the human mind. This is one of the reasons why science must be taught and why so many have such difficulty both learning it and learning how to do it. (Robert McCauley 2000) Science unnatural
  28. 28. Natural selection, however, did not shape us to earn good grades in science class or to publish in refereed journals. It shaped us to master the local environment, and that led to discrepancies between how we naturally think and what is demanded in the academy. …Good science is pedantic, expensive, and subversive. It was an unlikely selection pressure within illiterate foraging bands like our ancestors', and we should expect people's native “scientific” abilities to differ from the original article. (Pinker 1997 p. 303) So-so scientists
  29. 29. Isn't it possible that our evolved brains because we evolved in what I call "middle world", where we never have to cope either with the very small or the cosmologically very large, we may never actually have an intuitive feel for what is going on in quantum mechanics, we can still test the predictions, do the mathematics and do the physics to actually test the predictions because anybody can read the diagrams (R. Dawkins) Counter-intuitive science
  30. 30. • We do science: it is a fact • Our cognitive apparatus must be somehow prepared for science – Research on cognitive precursors of science in the evolutionary (phylogeny) and developmental (ontogeny) past • But is not pre-wired for professional science – Research on tools that make science viable The paradox of science
  31. 31. • A mixed origin of science – Nature: core knowledge, curiosity, causal reasoning, sensitivity to regularities, … • = capacities that reveal themselves very easily in the ontogenetic development and probably go far in our evolutionary past – Culture: social cooperation and tools for augmenting cognitive capacities (e.g. writing for transmission, spatial external representations) • = capacities that have a natural basis and make our culture special The natural-cultural hypothesis
  32. 32. But what we can see is that what scientists have constructed over the centuries is the tools, mind tools, thinking tools, mathematical tools which enable us to some degree to overcome the limitations of our evolved brains, our stone-age, if you like, brains; and overcoming those limitations is not always direct sometimes you have to give up something you get, you just may never be able as you to think intuitively about this, but you can know, even if you can't think it intuitively, there is this laborious process you can make progress and you can have the seed of a certain authority to the progress that you can test that and it can carry you from A to B in the same way you know if you are quadriplegic an artificial device can carry you from A to B, you can't walk from A to B but you get from A to B. (D. Dennett) The role of cognitive artefacts
  33. 33. Precursors of scientific thinking in phylogenesis Natural (cognitive) enemies of scientific thinking and knowledge in phylogeny Natural (cognitive) enemies of scientific thinking and knowledge in ontogeny Precursors of scientific thinking in ontogeny Cognitive skills and dispositions displayed by scientists Cognitive skills and dispositions required for science Mithen McCauley Gopnik Simon Quine Liebenberg Boyer Chi Spelke Holyoak DiSessa Carruthers Atran Carey Carey Dunbar Povinelli Tooby & Cosmides Bloom Bloom Pinker Naturalization of scientific cognition

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