Nottingham ESRC Doctoral Training Centre

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Jonathan Halls

PhD Student, Faculty of Social Sciences


Research Summary

My research investigates how language influences children's ability to learn scientific theories.

Young children (3- to 8-years-old) are generally considered to reason teleologically about natural organisms and objects. I.e. they prescribe purpose to organisms and objects. For example, bird's wings are for flying, night is for going to sleep or mountains are for climbing. My thesis investigates how cultural patterns of language, e.g. telling a child to go to sleep because it is night, affect children's constructions of scientific concepts. The current study I am working on explores how teleologically-leading questions, those implying purpose (e.g. what is snow for?), influence children's propensity to provide scientific or teleological responses.

Nottingham ESRC Doctoral Training Centre

University Park

telephone: +44 (0) 115 748 4507