Parent-Child Talk About the Origins of Living Things
For the first time, the National Curriculum released in May 2015 includes evolutionary theory as part of science education for year 6 students. Given that children’s misconceptions and naïve theories often hinder understanding of evolutionary theory, teachers must know what children believe about the origins of species for formal instruction in this topic to be beneficial. In our study, we interviewed 124 English parents and children. Half of the sample also discussed the origins of these entities. Seven-year-olds endorsed creationism more than evolutionary beliefs, whereas the 10-year-old children endorsed these beliefs to a similar extent. Parents, on the other hand, endorsed evolutionary theory more than creationism. We compared children whose parents endorsed evolution strongly to children whose parents did not strongly endorse evolutionary theory. Children in the latter group endorsed creationism more than evolutionary beliefs, whereas children in the former group endorsed these beliefs to a similar extent. Finally, this study further focused on a sample of parents and children who also discussed the origins of living things together. Children’s endorsements were more strongly related to the parent-child conversations than to parents’ endorsements. Although parent-child conversations were related to parents’ beliefs, sometimes beliefs not endorsed by the parents were mentioned during the discussion task.
Tenenbaum, H. R., & Hohenstein, J. M. (in press). Parent-child talk about the origins of living things. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.