• Charleen Chan

Do children learn more from direct instruction or from their own active exploration?

Researchers address that question in the September issue of the journal Cognition.

The subjects, 85 preschoolers whose mean age was 4 years and 10 months, were shown a novel-looking toy—colored PVC pipes attached to a board. When a yellow tube was pulled out from inside a larger purple tube, the toy squeaked; when a button hidden inside a blue tube was pressed, it made the tube light up. There were four such functions in all. In the “pedagogical” condition, the experimenter showed the child how to make the toy squeak; in the “baseline” condition, the experimenter showed the child the toy, but not how it worked.