Choosing to Learn: Evidence evaluation for active learning and teaching in early childhood
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Description: Choosing to take certain actions has direct consequences for learning. Do children tend to choose actions that support learning? We present research suggesting that before reaching kindergarten, children demonstrate proficiency in active learning that cannot be accounted for by simple heuristics for decision-making. Instead, children’s choices reveal a sophisticated ability to evaluate evidence (computing information gained by particular actions); potential evidence is compared to other possible rewards and costs associated with actions. This early emerging ability to select evidence underpins informal teaching of, and reasoning about, others. Specifically, we discuss recent empirical work demonstrating that preschool-aged children are able to evaluate potential evidence to support their own learning, another’s learning, and that they can even evaluate a teacher’s evidential selection for a third party’s learning.