Curiosity and Classrooms


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.

To learn more, CASTL has created a three-year study, Curiosity and Classrooms: An Exploration of Curiosity and the Development of Intellectual Virtues in Schools. 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?
  2. How is curiosity influenced by educational settings, and can it be promoted through specific teaching practices?

Researchers will create a rich, longitudinal database to answer these questions. Curiosity will be assessed in 500 second graders across the school year.  Using a range of measures, researchers will explore how curiosity varies across students, subject domain, and time. They will also measure other intellectual virtues – creativity, open-mindedness, intellectual courage, and critical thinking – to explore longitudinal associations with curiosity. Observations of instruction will help them understand how classroom experiences shape curiosity. This research aims to advance knowledge about curiosity, how it develops and intersects with other character virtues, and the role of educational experience on curiosity.        

Project Status: January 2020 - December 2022

Funding Source: The John Templeton Foundation

Principal Investigator: Jamie Jirout

Project Team: Virginia Vitiello, Erik Ruzek

Partners: Sharon Zumbrunn (VCU)