I know what you need to know: Children's developing theory of mind and pedagogical evidence selection

Abstract

Natural pedagogy emerges early in development (Knudsen & Liszkowski, 2012), but good teaching requires presenting evidence specific to learners' knowledge (Shafto, Goodman, & Griffiths, 2014). How might the development of Theory of Mind (ToM) relate to the ability to select pedagogical evidence? We present a training study in which we investigated the link between preschool-aged children's false-belief understanding and their ability to select evidence for teaching. Our results suggest that children with more advanced ToM abilities were better evidence selectors, even when controlling for effects of age and numerical conservation abilities. We also found that children who improved more in false-belief understanding from pre- to post-test performed better on the pedagogical tasks over the course of the training. Finally, we report tentative evidence for a link between the pedagogical training and improvements in ToM. Our findings suggest important connections between ToM and evidential reasoning in natural pedagogy in early childhood.


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