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Title page for ETD etd-04032006-231745


Type of Document Dissertation
Author Narasimham, Gayathri
Author's Email Address gayathri.narasimham@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-04032006-231745
Title Children's and adults' knowledge of species-general and species-specific changes during physical growth and development
Degree PhD
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
John J. Rieser Committee Chair
Howard M. Sandler Committee Member
Megan M. Saylor Committee Member
Tedra A. Walden Committee Member
Thomas J. Palmeri Committee Member
Keywords
  • Classification
  • Rule-use
  • Biological concepts
  • Concept Development
  • Perceptual Concepts
  • Science Education
  • Growth
  • Concepts in children
Date of Defense 2006-03-16
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
CHILDREN'S AND ADULTS’ KNOWLEDGE OF SPECIES-GENERAL AND SPECIES-SPECIFIC CHANGES DURING PHYSICAL GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT

GAYATHRI NARASIMHAM

Dissertation under the direction of Professor John J. Rieser

An integral part of biological knowledge is understanding that although all species increase in stature during physical growth, some undergo changes in body-head proportion (for example, mammals) and others do not (for example, reptiles). Three experiments examined the degree to which preschoolers, third graders, and adults differentiate principles of growth of different species, knowledge implicit in their perceptual classifications of line drawings of animals, and explicit in their verbal explanations. Results showed that while preschoolers based their implicit judgments about mammalian growth on proportional changes, they do not use the proportion rule when size conflicts with proportional changes. Interestingly, third-graders and adults judged by proportion even when size was in conflict, but only with mammal species. Preschoolers and school children judged predominantly by size in the case of reptiles and novel species. Adults judged by size, but also used the proportion rule with reptile and novel species. Explicit verbalizations revealed that preschoolers talked about size changes as the main factor in judging age, whereas school-age children and adults talked about more discerning features, and only adults talked about proportional differences.

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