14 SES 10 A, Parent‘s Educational Values (Part 2)
Informal reasoning is undeniably an intrinsically valuable skill with instrumental significance. Children are increasingly recognised as social agents who can participate and influence decisions that affect their childhood (Clark and Moss, 2001). The UN convention of the Rights of the child (1989) states that children should be seen as competent individuals who can be consulted and involved in decision-making that affects their individual lives. Be it in public or private spheres, children are seen as active agents of change and with that, fostering good informal reasoning skills is essential for making critical evaluations and enriching decision-making in life.
In psychological literature, research on children’s development of informal reasoning of everyday situations has been sparse (Means & Voss, 1996; Amsterlaw, 2006). There has been increasing research on socio-scientific reasoning of children in formal classroom contexts (see Zimmerman, 2007) but research on reasoning which deals with the social ill-structured problems of everyday life is not as well-established. As compared to classroom settings, the development of informal reasoning in family is relatively unexplored. Family is for most children the starting point for learning of reasoning skills. Through bidirectional communication, the home environment provides rich opportunities for children to practice informal reasoning in daily situations. Parents are the main role models from which young children imitate, negotiate, and learn strategies of argumentation from. Therefore a deeper understanding of how parental socialization factors contribute to the fostering of reasoning in children is critical in helping educators to understand the conditions needed to develop optimal reasoning.
Additionally reasoning has been increasingly shown in recent work to be closely tied with personal epistemic beliefs - one's beliefs on knowing and knowledge plays a significant role in the sophistication of one’s reasoning processes (Mason & Scirica, 2006). For example, the recognition that knowledge from authorities cannot always be trusted can bring about a more critical way of thinking about information received from them (Justification by Authority). The transmission of epistemic beliefs from parent to child is investigated in addition to the linkages of the child’s beliefs to his/her level of informal reasoning.It is hypothesized that parents trasmit their epistemic beliefs to children in everyday interactions even when they may not be consciously aware of them.
Within the family, parental socialization factors in this study consists of parenting dimensions and parental epistemic beliefs. Family communication pattern is included as a mediating variable. Parenting consists of four dimensions – autonomy-support, responsiveness, structure and control. Family communication draws on the concepts of conversation- and conformity-orientation patterns. Personal epistemic beliefs of both parents and children are measured in the dimensions of Justification by authority, Personal justification and Simple and certain knowledge.
The research aims of the current study is to develop a model exploring the fostering of informal reasoning and epistemic beliefs of children in the context of parental socialization and to test it empirically using structural equation modeling.
Greene, Torney-Purta & Azevedo (2010). Empirical evidence regarding relations among a model of epistemic and ontological cognition, academic performance, and educational level. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102 (1), 234-255. Kroener, A.F. & Fitzpatrick, M.A. (2002). Understanding family communication patterns and family functioning: the roles of conversation orientation and conformity orientation. Communication Yearbook, 26. Mason, L. & Scirica, F. (2006). Prediction of students' argumentation skills about controversial topics by epistemological understanding. Learning and Instruction, 16, 492-509. Means, M.L. & Voss, J.F. (1996). Who reasons well? Two studies of informal reasoning among children of different grade, ability, and knowledge levels. Cognition and Instruction, 14,139–178. Zimmerman, C. (2007). The development of scientific thinking skills in elementary and middle school. Developmental Review, 27, 172-223.
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