Tracing preschoolers’ ability to form and use categories



This paper reports on a small-scale exploratory case study that aims at highlighting preschoolers’ ability to categorize, grasp criteria for categorizing and use categories for attributing properties to target entities. Conducting individual, semi-structured interviews with 10 preschoolers (age 4-5) of a public kindergarten in the broader area of Patras, we attempted to trace their ability to (a) form categories by appealing to coherent criteria, (b) recognize the criteria that were used in the formation of given categories, and (c) infer the properties of target entities from the category they belong. The analysis of our qualitative data within the “NVivo” software showed that the informants of the study lacked the ability to coherently form categories, while they didn’t seem to encounter significant difficulties in recognizing how given categories have been structured. Furthermore, they seemed capable for category-based reasoning that allowed them to predict the properties of target entities according to the category they belong when they were made aware of this category. The educational implications of our findings are thoroughly discussed in the paper.


Preschoolers and categories, preschoolers and categorization criteria, preschoolers and category-based reasoning

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Educational Journal of the University of Patras UNESCO Chair | ISSN: 2241-9152 | Department of Educational Sciences and Early Childhood Education University of Patras

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