Preschoolers’ notion of chance and probability

Zoi Nikiforidou and Jenny Pange have written an article about The notions of change and probabilities in preschoolers, which was published in the most recent issue of Early Childhood Education Journal. Here is the abstract of their article:

Chance, randomness and probability constitute statistical notions that are interrelated and characterize the logicomathematical thinking of children. Traditional theories support that probabilistic thinking evolves after the age of 7. However, recent research has underlined that children, as young as 4, may possess and develop basic notions, through mental mechanisms and/or through intuitive processes. In the current study, preschoolers (N = 200) aged 4–6, participated in two diverse probability tasks related to the likelihood of events and the graphical representation of randomness. The aim of this study was to test whether children, at this young age, have the ability to predict the most probable outcome in a probabilistic game with animal cards and whether they can mark symbols randomly distributed in a 5 × 5 matrix. Preschoolers infered correctly the most likely outcome and showed a minimal understanding of randomness by preferring the uniform rather than random distribution of items. Such findings have both methodological and educational implications for further research as already the notions of chance and probabilities are integrated in Preschool Mathematics Curricula worldwide.

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