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The ability to make judgments about different kinds of evidence is an important skill for learning about science. This study investigated if children recognize how helpful relevant and irrelevant information is for evaluating biological explanations, and whether their judgments change with age. Participants were 24 7- and 8-year-olds and 26 9- and 10-year-olds. Children heard a statement about an animal's behavior. Then children heard an explanation for that behavior followed by 2 different observations. One observation was about the same animal but was irrelevant to the explanation. The other observation was about a different animal, but was relevant to the explanation. Children rated the helpfulness of each observation. Older children were less likely to rate the observations as helpful than younger children. More importantly, both age groups rated different animal-relevant observations as more helpful than the same animal-irrelevant. The findings suggest that when children are learning about science, they can differentiate between kinds of evidence regardless of the topic. However, they may still require assistance from educators in order to make more accurate judgments.

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Science; Relevant; Evidence; Observation; Children; Judgment


Developmental Psychology

That's IrrELEPHANT: Children's Judgments of Relevant and Irrelevant Animal Observations