Meta-Analysis of the Effectiveness of Philosophy for Children Programs on Students’ Cognitive Outcomes

  • Sijin Yan
  • Lynne Masel Walters
  • Zhuoying Wang
  • Chia-Chiang Wang


Philosophy for Children (P4C) is an educational program that aims at introducing philosophy into K-12 education. This meta-analysis examines the research on P4C, published from 2002 to 2016, regarding how it affects pre-collegiate students’ cognitive outcomes. Ten studies (including two follow-up studies) with the total sample size of 1,509 students from second to twelfth grade are included in this meta-analysis. Results suggest that the extant empirical studies on P4C show an overall moderate positive effect (d=0.58) on students’ cognitive learning outcomes and a significant positive effect on reasoning skill (d=1.06). Specifically, those studies conducted in non-Western countries have higher effect sizes than the Western ones. Moreover, studies with smaller sample sizes have higher effects sizes than those with larger sample sizes. This may be because P4C produces better outcomes in reasoning skills than general cognitive abilities and reading comprehension, and P4C could be more effective when practiced in small scales.