Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Understanding: the ability to give reasons for a distinction or to justify a selection of options. See also actions, meaning, knowledge.

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Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

 
Author Item Summary Meta data
Upton I 106
Understanding/science/educational psychology/Upton: Piaget (Piaget, 1923)(1) argued that children cannot understand scientific reasoning until they have reached the formal operational stage of development, which usually happens in adolescence.
VsPiaget: However, many educators and psychologists now agree that children begin to understand about the natural world and how it works from an early age (Duschl et al.. 2007)(2). The evidence suggests that they construct their own theories of how the world around them works based on their everyday experiences. While a rudimentary understanding of scientific phenomena such as density has even been demonstrated in preschoolers (Kohn, 1993)(3), it must be remembered that these naive theories are often imperfect and may include misconceptions. Piaget (1923)(1) argues that this is because young children do not have the cognitive structures to enable them to understand the scientific theory. According to Piaget, early misconceptions must be replaced by more accurate understanding as the child’s cognitive abilities mature.
However, contemporary evidence suggests that, rather than dismissing children’s early theories, this knowledge should be used as a building block for scientific thinking. See Pine et al. 2001(4) - For a different point of view (VsPine) see Hardy et al. 2006(5).


1. Piaget. 1(1923) Languci.ge and Thought of the Child. London: Routledge.
2. Duschl. R. Schweingruber, H and Shouse, A (eds) (2007) Taking Science to School: Learning and teaching science in grades K - 8. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
3. Kohn, A (1993) Preschoolers’ reasoning about density: will it float? Child Development, 64:
163 7-50.
4. Pine, KJ, Messer, DJ and St John, K (2001) Children’s misconceptions in primary science: a survey of teachers’ views. Research in Science and Technology Education, 19(1): 79-96. Available online at https://uhra.herts.ac.uk/dspace/bitstream/2 299/613/1/103 202.pdf.
5. Hardy, I, Jonen, A, Möller, K and Stem, E (2006) Effects of instructional support within constructivist learning environments for elementary school students’ understanding of ‘floating and sinking’. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98: 307-26.

Further reading:
Nunes, T, Schliemann, AD and Carraher, DW (1993) Street Mathematics and School Mathematics. New York: Cambridge University Press.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Educational Psychology
Upton I
Penney Upton
Developmental Psychology 2011


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