Children Learn Better When They Select Their Own Data


Human learners ask questions, manipulate objects, and perform interventions on their environment. These behaviors are true of adults, but even more so for young children. Recent studies have demonstrated that adults learn better under conditions of selection learning, where they can make decisions about the information they wish to acquire, as compared to reception learning, where they merely observe data that happens to be available to them. Yet to date, it remains unclear whether this advantage is available to children, and if so, does it arise because children can gather data in a non-random way? In the current study, we show that 7-year-old children show superior learning under conditions of selection in a category-learning task, and that their information gathering is systematically driven by uncertainty.

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