Curious About Learning How Curiosity Affects Learning

When I was younger, I remember wondering about why things are the way they are. Like why is the sky blue? What causes the seasons? Why does it only snow when it’s cold outside? The world is full of so many unknowns, and curiosity is the driving factor that leads to discoveries about these unknowns. But something that Eleanor’s chalk talk made me realize was that curiosity is more than just asking deep questions about the world. By simply going through day to day life, humans are constantly curious and learning about the world around us, whether or not we are consciously aware of it.

Eleanor’s project is focused on exploring the relationship between engagement, curiosity, and memory through showing human participants art videos that gradually take the form of a recognizable object. As the video progresses and more information is given to the participant, engagement is varied by controlling when and what the participants are allowed to guess regarding the identity of the drawing shown. These differing levels of engagement are then hypothesized to result in different levels of self-reported curiosity. By testing the memories of the participants the next day, the researchers will be able to better understand the relationship between engagement and curiosity and how that relates to learning and memory in participants with varying personality traits.

I am excited to see how the factors of engagement and curiosity apply in an educational environment and what that means for students and teachers. I thought that the experimental-set up was really interesting because I feel like sometimes in classes, the teacher is telling you exactly what the answer is instead of allowing you to come to the answer by yourself at your own pace. Going off the hypothesis that the least engaged group of people will have the lowest levels of self-reported curiosity, it would be interesting to see how this correlates to in-classroom teaching methods. For example, would this be similar to a lecture-style class with the teacher telling the students exactly what the facts are and how to answer certain types of questions? 

I feel like a lot of what we are being taught in class is for the sake of learning what we need to know to do well on exams and get a good grade. Finding the best methods of teaching for each type of student can help get students genuinely interested in what they are learning. This would be a big step in improving the methods of teaching and making learning a more enjoyable and worthwhile experience for both students and teachers alike.

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