Chapter 12 - Cognitive Development in Middle Childhood Flashcards Preview

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Piaget’s Theory: The Concrete Operational Stage

4 Achievements

Children are now mastering conservation tasks
This shows evidence of: decentration, reversibility, declining egocentrism

Children begin solving class inclusion problems correctly (flowers vs yellow flowers). More aware of classification hierarchies and can focus relations between a general category and two specific categories at the same time.
Collection become common in middle childhood

Children become capable of seriation and transitive inference

Spatial Reasoning
• Cognitive maps
• Organized route of travel
• Between 7 and 8, children start to become capable of mental rotation, and can identify the left and right of someone who is facing in a different direction from them
• Between 8 and 10, they can use the “mental walk” strategy (imagining another person’s movements) to give clear, well organized directions for getting from one place to another
• 10 to twelve grasp scale
• Map skills improve with practice



The ability to order items along a quantitative dimension, such as length or weight.


transitive inference

The ability to seriate mentally. (From observing stick A is longer is B and B is longer then C. Children must infer that A is longer then C.)


Cognitive maps

Cognitive maps - mental representations of familiar, large-scale spaces, such as school or neighbourhood
– requires perspective taking skill
Preschoolers tend to place landmarks inaccurately on maps of familiar places
In the early school grades (age 8-10), they place landmarks along an organized route of travel, drawing on their improved direction-giving skills
By the end of middle childhood, they can combine landmarks and the routes they know into an overall representation of space
They also can grasp the notion of scale—the proportional relation between a space and its map representation


Limitations of Concrete Operational Thought

Children think in an organized logical fashion only when dealing with concrete information they perceive directly. (poor abstract)
Children master concrete operation tasks step by step and not all at once. (continuum of acquisition)
Horizontal décalage in children’s mastery of conservation tasks
They don’t come up with general principles and then apply them to all relevant situations; they seem to work out the logic of each problem separately
Unable to reason hypothetically


Follow-Up Research on Concrete Operational Thought

Piaget believed progression through his stages to be based largely on brain development, combined with interaction with the physical world
We find that schooling has a much greater impact than Piaget would have thought
Unschooled children tend to do poorly on Piagetian conservation tasks until perhaps age 11
Note, though, that children with other experience can sometimes master the tasks when they’re presented in relevant ways

Information-processing theorists have had some success in explaining horizontal décalage

Robbie Case has suggested that, as components of the task become more automatic, more and more processing space (working memory) is freed up to deal with other components of the task. Forming Central conceptual structures.
Since different tasks differ in their level of complexity, and the number of components that must be considered at once, there are differences in when children master them.
They gain the ability to integrate multiple dimensions.(1 – preschool) (2 - early school), (3+ - 9 to 11) (main plot and sub plots)


Central conceptual structures

Networks of concepts and relations that permit them to think more effectively in a wide range of situations


Evaluation of the Concrete Operational Stage

Western children continue to solve Piaget’s conservation problems at the ages that Piaget indicated
However, there’s still considerable debate about whether we’re looking at continuous improvement in logical skills or at discontinuous restructuring of children’s thinking


Information Processing

Information processing theorists tend to look at different aspects of thinking, rather than considering it as a holistic process
Belief that brain development contributes to basic changes in information processing that can have far-reaching effects on thought

There are:
Gains in information-processing speed and capacity
Gains in inhibition
And strategy

In areas of:
Theory of mind
Cognitive self-regulation


Gains in inhibition

Improvements in inhibition: the ability to control internal and external distracting stimuli. Strides are made in middle childhood due to further growth in the in the prefrontal cortex. Better inhibition can lead to more space being available in the working memory


Gains in information-processing speed and capacity

Rapid improvements between 6-12, suggest biologically based
Possibly this increases the efficient, complex thinking because a faster thinker can hold more in their working memory


acquisition of selective, adaptable attentional strategies shows a four-step sequence:

1. Production deficiency - the failure to produce a mental strategy when it could be helpful

2. Control deficiency - the inability to control, or execute, a mental strategy consistently

3. Utilization deficiency - the inability to improve performance despite consistent use of a mental strategy

4. Effective strategy use - consistent use of a mental strategy, leading to improvement in performance

They do not have performance gains when they learn a new strategy because the new strategy requires so much effort and attention that little remains to perform other parts well.
Or younger children are not good at monitoring their performance



One aspect of cognition that shows improvements during middle childhood is attention, which becomes

More selective (deliberately attending to just the elements of a situation that are relevant.)

More adaptive (Adapt attention to situational requirements. Sharp gains in selectivity, and adaptability occur between 6 – 10).

More planful (they can look for similarity’s a differences, they can prioritize, learn planning by working with expert planners)


Memory strategies

Organization – grouping related items (control deficiency – younger children organized inconsistently) (utilization deficiency – when they did not organize) older children are more likely to use several strategies at once.
Elaboration – creating a relationship or shared meaning between two or more pieced of information that are not member of the same category.

Because organization an elaboration create “meaningful chunks” the permit children to hold on to more info, therefore expanding working memory

Tasks that require children to remember isolated info (school), require use of more memory stratageys. This can lead to overreliance which can hinder in some tasks.


Knowledge base

Long term knowledge base grows and become organized into increasingly elaborate, hierarchically structured networks. (the more you know about a topic the easier it is to remember new info)

Children who are an expert in an area are usually also highly motivated


Theory of mind

Becomes more elaborate and refined. This is another reason why thinking and problem solving becomes more advanced.

Knowledge of Cognitive Capacities
Older children regard the mind as an active, constructive agent that selects and transforms information. (verses passive container like preschools think.) Consequently they have a much better understanding of cognitive processes and the impact of psychological factors on performance. (importance of focus, memory strategies, differing trains of thought, mental inferences, appreciation of second order false beliefs)

Knowledge of Strategies
They can also take into account how “interactions” among multiple variables affect the cognitive performance


mental inferences

- the process of arriving at some conclusion that, though it is not logically derivable from the assumed premises, possesses some degree of probability relative to the premises.

Children are aware that people extend their knowledge not only by directly observing events and talking to others but also by making mental inferences.


second order false beliefs

- second-order false-belief tasks are related with what people think about other people's thoughts

The grasp of mental inferences enables knowledge of false beliefs to expand.
Children were aware that people form beliefs about other people’s beliefs and the second order beliefs can be wrong.
Appreciation of second order false beliefs enables children to pinpoint the reasons that another person arrived at a belief. This assists them understanding others perspectives.


Cognitive self-regulation

Not good at it yet

Cognitive self-regulation is their ability to monitor their progress towards a goal, evaluate their strategies, and redirect unsuccessful efforts. Ability at cognitive self-regulation can predict school success


Phonological awareness

Phonological awareness refers to an individual's awareness of the phonological structure, or sound structure, of spoken words. Phonological awareness is an important and reliable predictor of later reading ability.


Applications of Information Processing to Academic Learning


2 approaches

Reading taxes all aspects of our information processing system. Because it is so demanding many things need to be done automaticly.
When we look at the act of reading, we’re looking at something that requires:
• Perceiving single letters and letter combinations
• Translating these letters into speech sounds
• Recognizing the visual appearance of many common words
• Holding chunks of text in working memory while interpreting their meaning
• Combining the meanings of various parts of a text passage into an understandable whole

Phonological awareness, gains in processing speed, and visual discrimination all help reading performance, and all improve with reading experience

Whole-language approach vs. Phonics approach
A mix of the two is best


Whole-language approach

an approach to beginning reading instruction that parallels children’s natural language learning through the use of reading materials that are whole and meaningful. (motivated)


Phonics approach

an approach to beginning reading instruction that emphasizes coaching children on phonics, the basic rules for translating written symbols into sounds


Applications of Information Processing to Academic Learning


2 approaches

As with the teaching of reading, the teaching of mathematics has involved a debate between two methods

Drilling children on computational methods
Teaching ‘number sense’, an understanding of what numbers and math ‘mean’

As with reading, a blending of approaches tends to work best
Children need sufficient experience with computational strategies
They’re more likely to choose appropriate strategies when they understand what’s going on in each one


Individual Differences in Mental Development

Recall that IQ begins to stabilize around age 6
It correlates with academic achievement, usually in the range of r = .50 to r = .60
Children with higher IQs also are more likely to attain higher levels of education and enter more prestigious occupations when they grow up


Factor analysis

Factor analysis is a statistical method used to describe variability among observed, correlated variables in terms of a potentially lower number of unobserved variables called factors. For example, it is possible that variations in four observed variables mainly reflect the variations in two unobserved variables. Factor analysis searches for such joint variations in response to unobserved latent variables.


The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale

The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale is commonly used for individuals 2 and up
In addition to a general intelligence, it yields scores for
• General knowledge
• Quantitative reasoning
• Visual-spatial processing
• Working memory
• Basic information processing
There are both verbal and nonverbal types of tasks for each
Some of these are culturally


Defining and Measuring Intelligence

Most modern intelligence tests provide:
A single score representing a general intelligence
An array of separate scores measuring specific abilities

Tests sometimes differ significantly from one another in other ways:
Some are group-administered tests
Some of individually administered by highly-trained testers


The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-IV (WISC-IV)

The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-IV (WISC-IV) is for children aged 6 through 16
The Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI-III) is for children 2.5 years to 7 years 3 months
These tests give general intelligence and a variety of factors
The WISC-IV has four broad factors
• Verbal reasoning
• Perceptual (or visual-spatial) reasoning
• Working memory
• Processing speed

All of the Wechsler scales have always had both verbal and performance components
Attempts have been made in the Wechsler tests to minimize cultural dependence


Componential analyses

Componential analysis, also called feature analysis or contrast analysis, refers to the description of the meaning of words through structured sets of semantic features,