Curiosity has a positive impact on motivation and learning, yet research shows that, despite being curious about academic content outside of school, students are not curious in school. In fact, little research has studied what children's curiosity looks like in school settings, and we know little about its development or how it is influenced by the environment. This work will address two overarching questions: 1) What does curiosity look like in children, and how does it support the development of character more generally? and 2) How is curiosity influenced by educational settings, and can it be promoted through specific teaching practices?
We will create a rich, longitudinal database to answer these questions. Curiosity will be assessed in 500 second graders in 50 classes across four time points. Using a range of measures, we will explore how curiosity varies across students, subject domain, and time. We will also measure other intellectual virtues – creativity and open-mindedness, intellectual courage, and critical thinking – to explore longitudinal associations with curiosity. Observations of instruction will be used to study how classroom experiences shape curiosity. The findings of this research will advance knowledge on curiosity, how curiosity develops and intersects with other character virtues, and the role of educational experience on curiosity.
Dissemination efforts will include both academic and broader outlets, providing results that can be translated for practitioners. Importantly, our project will also facilitate ongoing exploration of intellectual virtues by the broader research community through the development and sharing of materials (e.g., measures) and data (student-level and classroom observation videos) on databrary.org, leading to the opportunity for deeper understanding of curiosity and how character virtues develop in the formal educational contexts experienced by the majority of students today through this and future research.