Paper Summary

Direct link:

How Do Development and Context Impact Young Children's Explanations of Complex Systems?

Mon, April 12, 2:50 to 4:20pm EDT (2:50 to 4:20pm EDT), SIG Sessions, SIG-Early Education and Child Development Paper and Symposium Sessions


This paper explores how young children explain complex systems. Understanding complex systems is becoming a critical ability as many world problems are inter-related. Existing research has rarely focused on younger children, and none is developmental.
16 kindergarteners and 17 second-graders were interviewed regarding familiar phenomena: marbles colliding in a box (physical) and congestion when leaving class (social). Transcripts were analyzed for systems-related components (e.g. levels, interactions).
Seven-year-olds used more complexity components than four-year-olds for the physical system, but not for the social system. However, four-year-olds used some complexity components, which is surprising since previous research has shown that adults have difficulty with this. A more fine-tuned analysis of these explanations is described. Implications for educational learning environments is discussed.