The Double-Edged Sword of Pedagogy: Instruction Limits Spontaneous Exploration and Discovery

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The Double-Edged Sword of Pedagogy: Instruction Limits Spontaneous Exploration and Discovery

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Title: The Double-Edged Sword of Pedagogy: Instruction Limits Spontaneous Exploration and Discovery
Author: Bonawitz, Elizabeth; Shafto, Patrick; Gweon, Hyowon; Goodman, Noah D.; Spelke, Elizabeth S.; Schulz, Laura

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Citation: Bonawitz, Elizabeth, Patrick Shafto, Hyowon Gweon, Noah D. Goodman, Elizabeth Spelke, and Laura Schulz. 2011. The double-edged sword of pedagogy: Instruction limits spontaneous exploration and discovery. Cognition 120(3): 322-330.
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Abstract: Motivated by computational analyses, we look at how teaching affects exploration and discovery. In Experiment 1, we investigated children’s exploratory play after an adult pedagogically demonstrated a function of a toy, after an interrupted pedagogical demonstration, after a naïve adult demonstrated the function, and at baseline. Preschoolers in the pedagogical condition focused almost exclusively on the target function; by contrast, children in the other conditions explored broadly. In Experiment 2, we show that children restrict their exploration both after direct instruction to themselves and after overhearing direct instruction given to another child; they do not show this constraint after observing direct instruction given to an adult or after observing a non-pedagogical intentional action. We discuss these findings as the result of rational inductive biases. In pedagogical contexts, a teacher’s failure to provide evidence for additional functions provides evidence for their absence; such contexts generalize from child to child (because children are likely to have comparable states of knowledge) but not from adult to child. Thus, pedagogy promotes efficient learning but at a cost: children are less likely to perform potentially irrelevant actions but also less likely to discover novel information.
Published Version: doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2010.10.001
Other Sources: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3369499/
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Open Access Policy Articles, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#OAP
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:10265480
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