1. Anna Waismeyer
  2. http://ilabs.washington.edu/postdoctoral-fellows/bio/i-labs-anna-waismeyer-phd
  3. Dr.
  4. Young Children's Causal Learning from Probabilistic Social and Physical Displays
  5. http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1251702
  6. Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, University of Washington
  1. Andrew Meltzoff
  2. http://ilabs.washington.edu/institute-faculty/bio/i-labs-andrew-n-meltzoff-phd
  3. Dr.
  4. Young Children's Causal Learning from Probabilistic Social and Physical Displays
  5. http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1251702
  6. University of Washington, Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Elizabeth Hassrick

    Elizabeth Hassrick

    Facilitator
    May 11, 2015 | 12:58 p.m.

    Wow! The experiment with the blocks was eye opening! Watching those discerning toddlers reach for the useful block was very cool. The step by step explanation for the experiment was very clear (I liked the pictures of the different light switches!). The graphic representation of the results was helpful! How do you think the behavior you studied might be shaped by more naturalistic contexts? Are there child characteristics that might make some children better probabilistic learners?

  • Icon for: Anna Waismeyer

    Anna Waismeyer

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 12:55 a.m.

    Thank you and great questions!

    There are many factors to consider in a more naturalistic context. For one, children may have many more cues to causality than just the ones we presented in our study – language, spatial relations, etc. However, they may also have many more distractions. Our study demonstrates that causal learning by observation is a robust mechanism by which children can learn inconsistent causal relationships – ones that appear to be effective only some of the time. This is important not only to our understanding of how children learn about cause and effect, a critical STEM concept, but also to our understanding of children’s early intuitions about probabilistic events and likelihoods.

    In response to your second question, I don’t know what characteristics may make some children better or worse probabilistic learners, but I do know that our work suggests that it may be possible to introduce probability as a concept earlier in educational curricula than it is at the moment and in a different format, one that might take advantage of these early intuitions.

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    Jorge Jasminoy

    Guest
    May 11, 2015 | 06:41 p.m.

    I loved the experiment in that it shows the practical side of children: they go for it!
    And perhaps it gives us a very relevant understanding of “Tabula Rasa”: It is not that we are born with no “contents” in our system but that we arrive with no prejudices or preferences that prevent us to apprehend reality as it is (within the framework of our original wiring)

  • Icon for: Anna Waismeyer

    Anna Waismeyer

    Presenter
    May 14, 2015 | 06:37 p.m.

    Thank you Jorge!

  • Icon for: Avron Barr

    Avron Barr

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2015 | 01:45 a.m.

    Interesting problem, great design, and a clear presentation in the video. Could you speak to the implications for STEM education?

  • Icon for: Anna Waismeyer

    Anna Waismeyer

    Presenter
    May 13, 2015 | 09:05 p.m.

    Thank you! Research on STEM learning and education emphasizes the importance of children’s acquisition of scientific reasoning skills, such as experimentation, evidence evaluation, and inference. The results of our work could lead researchers to develop curricula and training for preschool and K-3 level teachers to teach probabilities and probabilistic concepts that comport early childhood intuitions and help us to determine how children acquire error-prone heuristics during development. Also, increasing our knowledge about children’s informal statistical learning and causal reasoning can inform us about the background knowledge, acquired in informal settings, that children bring to more formal educational experiences.

  • Icon for: Lisa Hogan

    Lisa Hogan

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2015 | 07:57 p.m.

    I can only imagine how much fun it must have been to work with these toddlers. Within the test groups of toddlers, were there specific subgroups such as gender, race, socioeconomic status ? If so, were there any differences in subgroups’ performances? Since your data demonstrates it may be possible to introduce probability as a concept early in educational curricula have you given any thought to the kind of format that would be most effective in taking advantage of early intuitions?

  • Icon for: Anna Waismeyer

    Anna Waismeyer

    Presenter
    May 13, 2015 | 08:54 p.m.

    Thank you! There were no differences between any subgroups in our sample. However, it could be interesting to run larger samples of specific subgroups, such as groups of different socioeconomic status to see if there are environmental factors critical to the development of this cognitive mechanism. Games such as the one we describe above could be played regularly with children varying the causal objects, desirable outcomes, and the probabilities themselves to help children generalize. And within the context of these games, parents and educators could begin to draw connections to language about probability, such as more likely, less likely and to draw a connection between the games and events in daily life with very young children.

  • Icon for: May Jadallah

    May Jadallah

    Assistant Professor
    May 14, 2015 | 12:28 a.m.

    Wonderful work Anna, this is a fascinating study! How did you recruit the toddlers? I am referring to Lisa’s question in some respect. I have no doubt that all children are born with a natural ability to think logically and make causal connections. The question is how much of that natural ability is impacted by other environmental factors such as SES, age of mother, mother’s education, etc.

  • Icon for: Anna Waismeyer

    Anna Waismeyer

    Presenter
    May 14, 2015 | 05:58 p.m.

    Thank you May! To better recruit a representative sample of participants, we recruit participants through the University of Washington Infant Participant Pool (IPP). IPP participants are recruited from County birth records obtained from Washington State’s Center for Health Statistics/Department of Health. This method of recruitment increases the likelihood of a representative level of diversity in our sample in accordance with the surrounding population. To further ensure a wider diversity of participants, we also include public transit information during our recruitment process and reimburse parents for all transportation costs. However, since environmental factors were not the focus of our study, we did not collect samples from particular subgroups large enough to allow us to make statistical inferences about the effects of those environmental factors. This would be an interesting line of research to pursue in future studies.

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.