The Epistemology of Young Children

The Epistemology of Young Children

Denise L. Winsor (The University of Memphis, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-317-1.ch002


The purpose of this chapter is to raise questionable doubt about young children’s abilities to engage in more sophisticated thinking; and the impact of technology on children’s early epistemological development. The theoretical framework is rooted in Piaget’s theories of cognitive development, and is typically applied to college students and adults. However, Piaget is criticized for seriously underestimating young children’s cognitive ability. Moreover, scholars including Chandler, Hallet, and Sokol (2002) and Burr and Hofer (2002) have proposed an early predualist phase of epistemological development in which children between the ages of 3-to-6 may demonstrate more sophisticated ways of thinking and knowing related to theory of mind development. How does technology influence young children’s beliefs about knowledge or how might teacher’s and parent’s beliefs about knowledge affect young children? This chapter explores the answer to this question by discussing the research on epistemology and young children in relation to cognition and cognitive development.
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In chapter 1 you read about the historical theories about knowledge and knowing. We discussed some of the relationships of knowledge to technology from the perspective of the teacher and how children process external stimuli. In this chapter I will discuss four areas of research: 1) the background information regarding cognition and cognitive development in terms of information processing theory and Bloom’s Taxonomy; 2) children’s personal epistemologies; 3) children and technology; and 4) teachers use of technology to support epistemological development in the classroom.

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