ERIC Number: EJ972104
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Jul
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
Causal Systems Categories: Differences in Novice and Expert Categorization of Causal Phenomena
Rottman, Benjamin M.; Gentner, Dedre; Goldwater, Micah B.
Cognitive Science, v36 n5 p919-932 Jul 2012
We investigated the understanding of causal systems categories--categories defined by common causal structure rather than by common domain content--among college students. We asked students who were either novices or experts in the physical sciences to sort descriptions of real-world phenomena that varied in their causal structure (e.g., negative feedback vs. causal chain) and in their content domain (e.g., economics vs. biology). Our hypothesis was that there would be a shift from domain-based sorting to causal sorting with increasing expertise in the relevant domains. This prediction was borne out: The novice groups sorted primarily by domain and the expert group sorted by causal category. These results suggest that science training facilitates insight about causal structures.
Descriptors: Expertise, Novices, College Students, Physical Sciences, Classification, Recall (Psychology), Economics, Biology, Differences
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A