Elementary Children’s Retrodictive Reasoning about Earth Science



We report on interviews conducted with twenty-one elementary school children (grades 1-5) about a number of Earth science concepts. These interviews were undertaken as part of a teacher training video series designed specifically to assist elementary teachers in learning essential ideas in Earth science. As such, children were interviewed about a wide array of earth science concepts, from rock formation to the Earth’s interior. We analyzed interview data primarily to determine whether or not young children are capable of inferring understanding of the past based on present-day observation (retrodictive reasoning) in the context of Earth science. This work provides a basis from which curricula for teaching earth and environmental sciences can emerge, and suggests that new studies into the retrodictive reasoning abilities of young children are needed, including curricula that encourage inference of the past from modern observations.


Earth Science, Reasoning, Retrodiction.

Paper Details

Paper Details
Topic EU Education Programs
Pages 47 - 62
Issue IEJEE, Volume 5, Issue 1, Special Issue Learning and Instruction in the Natural Sciences
Date of acceptance 01 October 2012
Read (times) 673
Downloaded (times) 301

Author(s) Details


Michigan State University, United States

Matthew H. SCHNEPS

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics,, United States


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