There’s been a lot of interest in the role curiosity plays in learning (see The Best Posts On Curiosity).

A new study has come out suggesting that a particular type of curiosity is the most motivating for learning.

The research (see What we think we know — but might not — pushes us to learn more) suggests that the key is creating situations where students think they know something and then discover that they do not:

Practical applications include tailoring classroom learning to students’ misconceptions about what they know.

“Asking students to explain how things work can be an effective learning intervention because it makes them aware of what they don’t know and curious about what they need to know,” said study co-lead author Shirlene Wade, a visiting Ph.D. scholar in Kidd’s psychology lab at UC Berkeley.

For example, if students are quizzed on what causes climate change, how a bicycle works or about the U.S. constitutional separation of powers — and realize they only have a partial understanding of how these things work — their curiosity is stimulated, and they’re more open to learning, if only to get it right the next time.

Meanwhile, the subjects we know nothing — or too much — about, can prompt disinterest or even boredom.


It seems to me this kind of research supports instructional strategies like self-explanation (see The Best Resources For Learning About The Value Of “Self-Explanation”); anticipation guides; and Word Splashes.

Other ideas?