The Cat is Alive and Well: Curiosity Motivates Exploration for High Interest Learners

April 12, 2015


Amanda M. Durik

Northern Illinois University

Steven McGee

The Learning Partnership

Linda Huber

Northern Illinois University

Jennifer Duck

The Learning Partnership

Two studies were conducted to examine how individual interest predicts interactions with domain content and subsequent free-choice exploration. Particular focus was on learners’ acquisition of knowledge and identification of content that triggered curiosity. College student participants reported their individual interest, learned about a topic in ecology (Study 1, = 85) and astronomy (Study 2, = 184), responded to prompts for memory of the learning content and curiosity questions, and then had the opportunity to explore additional content related to the topic. In both studies individual interest interacted with whether students’ curiosity was triggered by particular content. In academic domains, individual interest in conjunction with curiosity may be the best predictor of continued behavioral exploration. The results are discussed in the context of the four-phase model of interest development.


Research Areas

Suggested Citation

Durik, A. M., McGee, S., Huber, L., and Duck, J. (2015, April). The Cat is Alive and Well: Curiosity Motivates Exploration for High Interest Learners. Paper presented at the American Education Research Association annual meeting, Chicago, IL.

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