Is the world round or flat? Children's understanding of the earth

Panagiotaki, Georgia, Nobes, Gavin and Banerjee, Robin (2006) Is the world round or flat? Children's understanding of the earth. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 3 (2). pp. 124-141.

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Investigation of children's understanding of the earth provides important insights into the origins of children's knowledge, the structure of their concepts, and the development of scientific ideas. Vosniadou & Brewer (1992) proposed that, under the influence of intuitive constraints and observations, children form nave but coherent mental models of the earth: for example they believe it to be flat, or that we live inside a hollow sphere. To test this claim, 59 children aged 6 - 8 years and 33 adults were given multiple-choice questions and a 3D model selection task. This approach avoided the criticisms of recent studies by providing participants with a full range of possible answers. Even the youngest children preferred scientific responses and so demonstrated some knowledge of the earth. Only 10% of the children showed any evidence of nave mental models; other participants who gave non-scientific answers were inconsistent and unsystematic. It is argued that intuitive constraints have little or no influence on the development of children's ideas in this domain, and that emerging knowledge of the earth progresses from being fragmented to consistently scientific.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Third author; first author was my research student
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Depositing User: Robin Banerjee
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:35
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2012 12:33
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