Curiosity, Motivation and Learning: Life-Long Partnership

Curiosity and Learning: How Is Curiosity Influential in the Studying Process?

The connection between curiosity and learning has always been in the center of study and discussion of many researchers. It has been empirically and scientifically estimated that curiosity in a specific area or subject is a boost for learning. For example, neurologists have already proven than when a person is curious in what he/ she learns or studies, his/ her brain becomes more receptive for effective and productive learning as well as for memorizing specific things. Moreover, sheer interest and curiosity in some area is what makes a person strive for more and try to learn more and more new things in order to investigate a specific area or subject in depth.

Apart from these research-proven benefits of curiosity in the learning process, it is also an obvious fact that one finds the studying process more enjoyable if he/ she is curious about the subject or the topic. If a student is curious, he/ she questions things and tries to derive specific information from all possible sources. For example, curious students are not afraid to ask questions in the classroom and to set topics for group discussions. If you think of famous inventions that are widely used around the world nowadays, you will see that they were made because of curiosity: that very light bulb, penicillin, radioactivity or even a wheel. Learning through curiosity is also a phenomenon that almost each student strives to instill in his/ her students. Still, here comes the question: how much does each of us knows about curiosity and learning.

People's Brains Love Curiosity

Researchers working at the University of California have recently decided to carry out a study that would help them determine what activities take place in the brain when a person is curious about something. People who participated in the experiment were given more than a hundred of ordinary questions, such as, “What is the real meaning of the word ‘dinosaur'?” etc. and the researchers had to evaluate the rate of their curiosity when given such sort of questions. MRI scans were utilized to monitor the brain activity at the time of reading and answering the questions. On the whole, the findings managed to reveal two important things: curiosity serves as a boost for learning and curiosity makes further learning process more gratifying.

  • Curiosity serves as a boost for learning

The findings have revealed that curiosity is what helps prepare the brain for the studying process. In such way, curiosity and learning are tightly interrelated. Although it is common knowledge that people are more prone to remember things that they have previously heard of, curiosity is what boosts their ability to memorize something new and previously unknown. According to the researchers, if one poses the right questions, he/ she is more likely to memorize the information derived from answers. Another finding of the research is that curiosity makes the brain better process information as it stays in the condition that can retain any sort of data. As such, one can make a conclusion that, if a teacher can instill curiosity of a student in a specific subject, the student will be more effective in memorizing and understanding information and learning new things. Particularly, a curious student will find it easier to memorize information otherwise considered as boring or complicated. For example, if a student has problems with understanding physics or mathematics, applying the subject principles to personal experience or certain interests may ease the studying process. Besides, the acquired approach utilizing curiosity as an instrument could further be used and applied to other cases.

  • Curiosity makes further learning process more gratifying

Apart from providing preparatory operations in order to enhance brain capabilities for learning, curiosity makes the studying process more rewarding. According to the research findings, when curiosity levels of the experiment participants were boosted, they did not only demonstrate high rates of hippocampus activity (the sector of the brain responsible for creating memories) but also in the brain circuit concerned with pleasure and gratification. This brain circuit becomes active when people get something they have always wanted or that they like, such as food, money, sweets, etc. This area mainly relies on dopamine, a chemical that is released in the body when people feel great and excited about something. This substance provides the feeling of “being high.” It can be concluded that boosting students' curiosity levels can help them remember information and facts even in the most boring subjects. Thus, curiosity and motivation for learning are strongly connected.

Asking Proper Questions

Regardless of the findings and information derived from the research, there are still some things that remain not completely clear when it comes to curiosity and the effectiveness of learning. Particularly, researchers have not identified whether it has long-term influence, namely, if one's curiosity is boosted at the beginning of a studying day, will it remain on the same levels till the end of the day? Will students be able to acquire and memorize information in the same way throughout the whole day? Will they have the same attention span and the ability to memorize things? One more thing worth researching is why some people are curious about one thing and the other people find it totally boring or useless. Or, what influences the natural feeling of people's curiosity?

The following set of questions is provided to boost curiosity levels in students. Read on and find them out.

  1. Who is the author of the following phrase: “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious”?
  • George Washington
  • Albert Einstein
  • John Lennon
  • Michael Jackson
  1. Who of the people said the following phrase: “Be curious, not judgmental”?
  • Marie Curie
  • George Bush
  • Anthony Hopkins
  • Walt Whitman
  1. Curiosity is often a boost to identifying something that needs to be altered. Which of these businesses occupies the leading position of companies that aim to change their activity in order to gain success?
  • Apple
  • Amazon
  • TedEx
  • Intel
  1. What is the percentage of American adults who regard themselves as very or extremely curious (according to Survey Monkey)?
  • 10%
  • 30%
  • 50%
  • 70%
  1. This is the sixth question on the list. How much time does it take for a person on average to finish the last sixth question?
  • 15 seconds
  • 30 seconds
  • 70 seconds
  • 90 seconds