Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS


H-GET Informe resumido

Project ID: 332280
Financiado con arreglo a: FP7-PEOPLE
País: Germany

Periodic Report Summary 1 - H-GET (Hypothesis generation, evaluation and testing: An organic, developmental perspective)

How do young children learn so much about the world, and so efficiently? Despite the centrality of this question, we do not appear to have very clear answers. This project investigates theoretically and empirically how children actively seek information in their physical and social environments as evidence to test and dynamically revise their hypotheses and theories over time. The research program explores the development of active learning across the life span, analyzing the effectiveness of children’s information search and hypothesis testing strategies, such as question asking and selective exploration, and identifying potential sources of developmental change. In particular, this project inaugurates the developmental investigation of “ecological learning”, defined as the ability to flexibly and dynamically select those active learning strategies that maximize learning efficiency in different learning environments. Finally, the project aims at developing an approach to classroom learning that leverages children’s active learning strategies and theory-building abilities and harnesses them to inform education policy. By bringing together methods and insights from developmental and cognitive psychology, philosophy, education, Bayesian reasoning, information theory and computational modeling, this project offers a unique, multidisciplinary perspective to shed light on the cognitive, social and cultural mechanisms underlying active and ecological learning.
In a series of experiments using variants of the 20-questions game, I have found that the ability to efficiently ask questions and explore the environment undergoes a large developmental change from age 4 to adulthood (Ruggeri & Lombrozo, 2015; Ruggeri, Lombrozo, Griffiths, & Xu, under review). However, despite having difficulty generating informative questions from scratch, 5-year-olds can already identify the most effective among given questions (Ruggeri, Sim, & Xu, under review). These results suggest that preschoolers have the computational foundations for developing successful question-asking strategies. Across several studies, I have also found that the observed developmental change can be partially explained by children’s increasing ability to generate higher-order features that can be used to cluster similar objects into categories (e.g., quadrupeds vs. nonquadrupeds; see Ruggeri & Feufel, 2015) and by the development of more general verbal abilities and vocabulary (Ruggeri, Walker, Lombrozo, & Gopnik, in prep.). Additionally, my computational findings (Ruggeri, Lombrozo, Griffiths, Xu, under review) provide compelling evidence of developmental differences in the implementation of stopping rules in information search. In this project, I have also provided the first evidence to demonstrate that 7- to 10-year-olds and young adults change the types of questions they ask in response to the information structure of the task (Ruggeri & Lombrozo, 2015). Across several experiments, I have also demonstrated that children as young as 5 years old successfully rely on different types of questions depending on their efficiency in the given hypothesis space, selecting the question type associated with higher information gain (Ruggeri, Sim, & Xu, under review). Despite the general developmental increase in performance, my work shows that adults do not adapt their active learning strategies more promptly than children do (Ruggeri & Lombrozo, 2015; Ruggeri & Lombrozo, in prep.).


Claudia Vinent, (Accounting Unit)
Tel.: +493082406420
Correo electrónico
Número de registro: 183675 / Última actualización el: 2016-06-16
Fuente de información: SESAM