MPRG iSearch | Information Search, Ecological and Active Learning Research with Children

How do young children learn so much about the world, and so efficiently? The Max Planck Research Group iSearch—Information Search, Ecological and Active learning Research with Children—investigates theoretically and empirically how children actively seek information in their physical and social environments as evidence to test and dynamically revise their hypotheses and theories over time.

The iSearch research program explores the development of active learning across childhood, analyzing the effectiveness of children’s information search and hypothesis testing strategies, such as question asking and selective exploration, and identifying potential sources of developmental change. In particular, we investigate “ecological learning”, defined as the ability to flexibly and dynamically select those active learning strategies that maximize learning efficiency in different learning environments. Finally, we are interested in developing an approach to classroom learning that leverages children’s active learning strategies and theory-building abilities and harnesses them to inform education policy.

By bringing together methods and insights from developmental and cognitive psychology, philosophy, education, information theory and computational modeling, our research group pursues a multidisciplinary perspective to shed light on the cognitive, social and cultural mechanisms underlying active and ecological learning.

The research group started its work in December 2016.

iSearch in the Media

Children explore their environment with all their senses, and their curiosity knows no bounds. From a certain age onwards, they never seem to stop bombarding adults with questions. Many people consider this form of active learning to be ideal. Until now, however, the strategies that children use on their own initiative. The research magazine MaxPlanckResearch describes how Azzurra Ruggeri and her team are developing sophisticated tests in order to understand the way children learn. (p. 70) more
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