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Kid watching up

“If we become increasingly humble about how little we know, we may be more eager to search”

- John Templeton

The Curiosity in Classrooms (CiC) Project is funded by the Templeton Foundation and based at the University of Virginia. Our CiC team aims to find ways that schools can encourage kids to be curious and interested in exploring new things, even (and especially!) when they don't have the answers yet.

What are the benefits of Curiosity?



Curiosity in Schools

Research shows that being curious can make learning more enjoyable and effective. Curiosity also helps with creative thinking and problem-solving. When we're curious, we're more likely to explore new things and keep trying to find information even if it's difficult. This can lead to better academic performance (3), even more so than just working hard or being naturally talented (4). This happens through developing sustained interests and promoting self-regulation, information seeking, and motivation (5; 6).

Curiosity involves the desire to learn new information. Based on prior research (1, 2), we study curiosity by measuring how and when people search for information and explore new ideas, especially things related to uncertainty or gaps in their knowledge.


We believe curiosity to be an increasingly important virtue to develop in children. Curious learning is motivating; it drive us to learn about things that are personally meaningful to us and that we don't already know. This kind of learning helps us develop critical thinking skills, which can lead to new discoveries and innovations. It also helps us learn and think better overall and to enjoy learning.

School Children
Modern Learning

Why study curiosity in the classroom?

There hasn't been much research on how curiosity is encouraged in schools; what has been done suggests that curiosity might be missing from classroom learning (e.g., 7, 8, 9, 10), even though teachers think it's important (e.g., 11). 

Curiosity involves something called metacognition: children evaluate what they know and don't know, so that they can find information to revise their existing knowledge and understanding. This is an essential skill to support learning and cognitive development, including learning in schools. We want to find out how teachers are encouraging metacognition, curiosity, and learning in real classrooms, and then share what we learn and provide tools for educators to foster these in their own schools.

If meaningful learning require students to seek out the unknown and come up with new and innovative ideas, they need to be curious and interested in finding new ways of doing things (12). We must prioritize promoting students’ curiosity in educational contexts alongside traditional performance outcomes. To make this happen, we need to study how curiosity develops over time and how we can help students maintain their curiosity.  It is important to understand the role curiosity plays in education, and, critically, how education can promote curiosity (13). Our previous research has looked at how classroom instruction can help, and the current phase of this project will give us more information about how teachers can effectively promote curiosity in their classrooms.

Facts about Curiosity
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