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Amadio, M. (2013) A rapid assessment of curricula for general education focusing on cross-curricular themes and generic competences or skills. Background paper for EFA Global Monitoring Report. (Report)

Abstract:

This paper presents the results of a quick mapping of a range of curriculum frameworks, policies and provisions around the world. The mapping shows that environmental and sustainability issues are reflected in the general goals of education in many countries and that cross-curricular themes related to environment and sustainability are one of the most
common transversal themes of general education curricula. It also shows that generic competences or skills are increasingly emphasised as broader learning outcomes that all students are expected to develop beyond the conventional subject-based learning. Concluding remarks highlight some of the complex and not yet resolved issues related to the implementation
of these innovative approaches.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2013
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
Page/s:
28
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Aureli, T. et al. (2015) Behavioral and facial thermal variations in 3-to 4-month-old infants during the Still-Face Paradigm (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Behavioral and facial thermal responses were recorded in twelve 3- to 4-month-old infants during the Still-Face Paradigm (SFP). As in the usual procedure, infants were observed in a three-step, face-to-face interaction: a normal interaction episode (3 min); the "still-face" episode in which the mother became unresponsive and assumed a neutral expression (1 min); a reunion episode in which the mother resumed the interaction (3 min). A fourth step that consisted of a toy play episode (5 min) was added for our own research interest. We coded the behavioral responses through the Infant and Caregiver Engagement Phases system, and recorded facial skin temperature via thermal infrared (IR) imaging. Comparing still-face episode to play episode, the infants' communicative engagement decreased, their engagement with the environment increased, and no differences emerged in self-regulatory and protest behaviors. We also found that facial skin temperature increased. For the behavioral results, infants recognized the interruption of the interactional reciprocity caused by the still-face presentation, without showing upset behaviors. According to autonomic results, the parasympathetic system was more active than the sympathetic, as usually happens in aroused but not distressed situations. With respect to the debate about the causal factor of the still-face effect, thermal data were consistent with behavioral data in showing this effect as related to the infants' expectations of the nature of the social interactions being violated. Moreover, as these are associated to the infants' subsequent interest in the environment, they indicate the thermal IR imaging as a reliable technique for the detection of physiological variations not only in the emotional system, as indicated by research to date, but also in the attention system. Using this technique for the first time during the SFP allowed us to record autonomic data in a more ecological manner than in previous studies.

Date:
January 2015
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
6
Page/s:
1586
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Exploratory play
  • Parent/Guardian play
  • Play with Mother
  • Self-regulation
  • Social-emotional
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Barbu, S. et al. (2011) Boys and girls on the playground: sex differences in social development are not stable across early childhood (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Sex differences in human social behaviors and abilities have long been a question of public and scientific interest. Females are usually assumed to be more socially oriented and skillful than males. However, despite an extensive literature, the very existence of sex differences remains a matter of discussion while some studies found no sex differences whereas others reported differences that were either congruent or not with gender stereotypes. Moreover, the magnitude, consistency and stability across time of the differences remain an open question, especially during childhood. As play provides an excellent window into children's social development, we investigated whether and how sex differences change in social play across early childhood. Following a cross-sectional design, 164 children aged from 2 to 6 years old, divided into four age groups, were observed during outdoor free play at nursery school. We showed that sex differences are not stable over time evidencing a developmental gap between girls and boys. Social and structured forms of play emerge systematically earlier in girls than in boys leading to subsequent sex differences in favor of girls at some ages, successively in associative play at 3-4 years, cooperative play at 4-5 years, and social interactions with peers at 5-6 years. Preschool boys also display more solitary play than preschool girls, especially when young. Nevertheless, while boys catch up and girls move on towards more complex play, sex differences in social play patterns are reversed in favor of boys at the following ages, such as in associative play at 4-5 years and cooperative play at 5-6 years. This developmental perspective contributes to resolve apparent discrepancies between single-snapshot studies. A better understanding of the dynamics of sex differences in typical social development should also provide insights into atypical social developments which exhibit sex differences in prevalence, such as autism.

Date:
January 2011
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
6
Page/s:
e16407
Synonyms:
  • Cooperative play
  • Cross-sectional
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Free play
  • Parallel play
  • Peers play
  • Social play
  • Social-emotional
  • Solitary play
Research discipline:

Barker, J. et al. (2014) Less-structured time in children's daily lives predicts self-directed executive functioning (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Executive functions in childhood predict important life outcomes. Thus, there is great interest in attempts to improve executive functions early in life. Many interventions are led by trained adults, including structured training activities in the lab, and less-structured activities implemented in schools. Such programs have yielded gains in children’s externally-driven executive functioning, where they are instructed on what goal-directed actions to carry out and when. However, it is less clear how children’s experiences relate to their development of self-directed executive functioning, where they must determine on their own what goal-directed actions to carry out and when. We hypothesized that time spent in less-structured activities would give children opportunities to practice self-directed executive functioning, and lead to benefits. To investigate this possibility, we collected information from parents about their 6-7 year-old children’s daily, annual, and typical schedules. We categorized children’s activities as “structured” or “less-structured” based on categorization schemes from prior studies on child leisure time use. We assessed children’s self-directed executive functioning using a well-established verbal fluency task, in which children generate members of a category and can decide on their own when to switch from one subcategory to another. The more time that children spent in less-structured activities, the better their self-directed executive functioning. The opposite was true of structured activities, which predicted poorer self-directed executive functioning. These relationships were robust (holding across increasingly strict classifications of structured and less-structured time) and specific (time use did not predict externally-driven executive functioning). We discuss implications, caveats, and ways in which potential interpretations can be distinguished in future work, to advance an understanding of this fundamental aspect of growing up.

Date:
January 2014
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
5
Page/s:
1-16
Synonyms:
  • Correlational
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Free play
  • Playful learning
  • Self-regulation
  • Executive function
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Basilio, M. (2016) Children's playfulness, self-regulation and collaborative skills in group story telling (Video Recording)

Abstract:

Part of the seminar on the relationships between dialogue and children’s self regulation, July 2016

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Date:
January 2016
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Synonyms:
  • Academic outcomes
  • Creativity
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Literacy
  • Pretend play
  • Self-regulation
  • Social play
  • Construction play
Relevant age group/s:

BBC, . et al. (2017) PEDAL | BBC Breakfast report on playful writing (Video Recording)

Abstract:

Acting Director of PEDAL Centre, David Whitebread, is interviewed in BBC Breakfast report on playful writing.

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Date:
January 2017
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Volume:
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Synonyms:
  • Academic achievement
  • Academic outcomes
  • Creativity
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Engagement
  • Guided-play
  • Learning
  • Playful learning
  • Pretend play
  • Social-emotional
  • Construction play
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Bergen, D. (2009) Play and Brain Development as Complementary Non Lonear Dynamic (Chaotic / Complex) Systems (Conference Paper)

Bruce, T. et al. (2008) I made a unicorn. Open-ended play with blocks and simple materials (Report)

Abstract:

Open-ended play with blocks and simple materials

Although children's play just happens spontaneously, it is complex and comes in myriad forms.
One universal type is open-ended play, also known as free-flow play, in which the children themselves determine what to do, how to do it, and what to use. Open-ended means not having a fixed answer; unrestricted; allowing for future change. In the course of such play, children have no fear of doing it wrong since there is no correct method or outcome; and observant adults are privileged with insights into children's development and thinking.

Open-ended play is intrinsic to childhood; children have an impetus to explore and create. When free to experiment with the simplest materials, they find ways to express and develop their thoughts in imaginative play.

Date:
January 2008
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Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Free play
  • Learning
  • Object play
  • Outdoor play
  • Pretend play
  • Well-being outcomes
  • Construction play
Relevant age group/s:
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Buchsbaum, D. (2013) Learning Causal Structure in Social, Statistical and Imagined Contexts (Thesis)

Abstract:

A major challenge children face is uncovering the causal structure of the world around them. Previous research on children’s causal inference has demonstrated their ability to learn about causal relationships in the physical environment using probabilistic evidence. However, children must also learn about causal relationships in the social environment, including discovering the causes of other people’s behavior, and understanding the causal relationships between others’ goal-directed actions and the outcomes of those actions. In addition, many of the causal relationships children experience do not occur in the physical world at all, but instead occur in richly causal imaginary worlds.

In this dissertation, we argue that social reasoning and causal reasoning are deeply linked, both in the real world and in children’s minds. Children use both types of information together and in fact reason about both physical and social causation in fundamentally similar ways. We suggest that children jointly construct and update causal theories about their social and physical environment and that this process is best captured by probabilistic models of cognition. We also argue that causal pretense may serve as a form of counterfactual causal reasoning, allowing children to explore causal “what if” scenarios in alternative imaginary worlds, and suggest a theoretical link between the development of an extended period of immaturity in human evolution and the emergence of powerful and wide-ranging causal
learning mechanisms.

We investigate the complex and varied ways in which children learn causal relationships through three primary lines of research, each of which extends probabilistic models beyond reasoning about purely physical causes, while also characterizing the distinctive aspects of causal pretense and social causal reasoning. In the first set of studies, we examine how causal learning can influence the understanding and segmentation of action, and how observed statistical structure in human action can affect causal inferences. We present a Bayesian analysis of how statistical and causal cues to segmentation should optimally be combined, as well as four experiments investigating human action segmentation and causal inference.
We find that both adults and our model are sensitive to statistical regularities and causal structure in continuous action, and are able to combine these sources of information in order to correctly infer both causal relationships and segmentation boundaries.

The second line of work examines how the social context influences children’s causal learning, focusing particularly on children’s imitation of causal actions. We define a Bayesian model that predicts children will decide whether to imitate part or all of an action sequence based on both the pattern of statistical evidence and the demonstrator’s pedagogical stance.
We conducted an experiment in which preschool children watched an experimenter repeatedly perform sequences of varying actions followed by an outcome. Children’s imitation of sequences that produced the outcome increased, in some cases resulting in production of shorter sequences of actions that the children had never seen performed in isolation. A second experiment established that children interpret the same statistical evidence differently when it comes from a knowledgeable teacher versus a naıve demonstrator, suggesting that children attend to both statistical and pedagogical evidence in deciding which actions to imitate, rather than obligately imitating successful action sequences.

The final line of work explores the relationship between children’s understanding of real-world causal structure and their pretend play. We report a study demonstrating a link between pretend play and counterfactual causal reasoning. Preschool children given new information about a causal system made very similar inferences both when they considered counterfactuals about the system and when they engaged in pretend play about it. Counterfactual cognition and causally coherent pretense were also significantly correlated even when age, general cognitive development and executive function were controlled for. These findings link a distinctive human form of childhood play and an equally distinctive human form of causal inference. We speculate that during human evolution computations that were initially reserved for particularly important ecological problems came to be used much more widely and extensively during the long period of protected immaturity.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2013
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Volume:
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Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Pretend play
Relevant age group/s:
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Buchsbaum, D. et al. (2012) The power of possibility: causal learning, counterfactual reasoning, and pretend play (Journal Article)

Abstract:

We argue for a theoretical link between the development of an extended period of immaturity in human evolution and the emergence of powerful and wide-ranging causal learning mechanisms, specifically the use of causal models and Bayesian learning. We suggest that exploratory childhood learning, childhood play in particular, and causal cognition are closely connected. We report an empirical study demonstrating one such connection—a link between pretend play and counterfactual causal reasoning. Preschool children given new information about a causal system made very similar inferences both when they considered counterfactuals about the system and when they engaged in pretend play about it. Counterfactual cognition and causally coherent pretence were also significantly correlated even when age, general cognitive development and executive function were controlled for. These findings link a distinctive human form of childhood play and an equally distinctive human form of causal inference. We speculate that, during human evolution, computations that were initially reserved for solving particularly important ecological problems came to be used much more widely and extensively during the long period of protected immaturity.

Date:
January 2012
Volume:
367
Page/s:
2202-2212
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Pretend play
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