Research Seminar: Tuesday 10th November

Children’s understanding of biology:
ideas about the human body, life and death, nutrition and physical activity

Research on conceptual development indicates that children have rich knowledge of biological concepts and construct ‘naïve’ theories that they use to reason about biological phenomena. Studies on children’s understanding of biology suggest that, from an early age, children have a relatively sophisticated knowledge of the human body and understand that the ultimate goal of body functioning is to maintain life. Young children also have an understanding that death is an inevitable and irreversible process that happens to all living entities, and signifies the end of all physical and mental functions. Research that explores the universal and culturally-specific aspects of children’s understanding of biology suggests that there are many similarities in children’s concepts across cultures but also important differences due to the influence of socio-cultural variables. In this talk I will discuss a programme of studies that explore primary school children’s understanding of the human body, the notion that our body works to keep us alive, and of death as a biological process.

I will report some of our findings concerning two key questions:

  1. how does knowledge of the human body, life and death develop? and
  2. how do cultural influences and religion influence the development of children’s understanding in this domain?

I will also report some initial findings from a project on children’s ideas about nutrition and physical activity, and discuss both their theoretical implications and how they can inform the design of successful interventions for the promotion of health-related behaviours.

Dr Georgia Panagiotaki, University of East Anglia

Tuesday 10th November
4.00pm to 5.00pm in 01AC02