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,


Recent Efforts to Define Intelligence

Some intelligence researchers are now looking at the process of solving problems and answering questions, rather than simply the products of problem-solving attempts

Studies reveal
A moderate relationship between processing speed and IQ
That measures of working-memory capacity correlate well with IQ in both school- age children and adults

There are multiple other factors that predict IQ, though
Flexible attention, memory, and reasoning strategies, for instance, are quite important
Consider how this might relate to response speed
Many of these componential approaches, though, look only to the child, rather than environmental or sociocultural factors
Sternberg’s theory includes these other factors


Triarchic theory of successful intelligence

Sternberg has talked about the importance of context for judging intelligent behaviour.
What is intelligent in one situation may not be intelligent in another
Cultural relevance of a task is important.
Familiarity with a task should be taken into account.

three broad, interacting intelligence—analytical, creative, and practical—that must be balanced to achieve success according to one’s personal goals and the requirements of one’s cultural community

1. Analytical intelligence consists of the information-processing components that underlie all intelligent acts – applying strategies, acquiring task-relevant and metacognitive knowledge, engaging in self-regulation

2. Creative intelligence involves thinking more skillfully than others when faced with novelty

3. Practical intelligence involves adapting to, shaping, or selecting environments


Theory of multiple intelligences

Theory of multiple intelligences - Gardner’s theory, which proposes at least eight independent intelligences on the basis of distinct sets of processing operations that permit individuals to engage in a wide range of culturally valued activities
Gardner believes that each intelligence has a unique biological basis, a distinct course of development, and different expert (end-state) performances

Research attempting to support Gardner’s multiple intelligences has been mixed and kind of sketchy, but he asserts that the existence of localized disabilities and of savants supports the idea of independent intelligences

Yet to be grounded in research


Gardner’s list of independent intelligences includes

(possibly) existential


Explaining Individual and Group Differences in IQ

The current debate is about why rather than if north American black children and adolescents score, on average, 12-13 points below American white children. Hispanic children fall midway between black children and white children.
The gap between middle-SES and low-SES children is about 9 points, and partially accounts for ethnic differences.

Jensen and Herrnstein & Murray have all suggested that group differences exist for genetic reasons.
However, children born into low-SES homes to mothers with below-average IQ who are adopted into advantaged homes with above-average IQ parents tend to score above average on tests
The Flynn Effect gives us evidence of environmental impact as well

Another potential contributor to group differences in IQ is test bias
• Communication styles differ between groups
• Test Knowledge - Test content is sometimes culturally-specific
• Stereotype threat


Collaborative Style of Communication

Hierarchical Style of Communication

- Working together in a coordinated, fluid way, each focused on the same aspect of the problem
- The adult directs the child. The child works independently


Reducing Cultural Bias in Testing

Dynamic assessment - an approach to testing in which an adult introduces purposeful teaching into the testing situation to find out what the child can attain with social support
This Vygotskian-based testing procedure
Taps the zone of proximal development
Circumvents some of the educational differences among children
Looks a little more at children’s adaptive behaviour, rather than just what knowledge they have


Metalinguistic awareness

Metalinguistic awareness - the ability to think about language as a system

During middle childhood, children develop the ability to think about language use



During the elementary school years, children’s vocabularies increase fourfold
One reason is that they develop the ability to analyze the structure of complex words
They also can often correctly deduce word meanings based on context
The ability to read exposes them to many new words

School-age children begin using words more precisely than they did in early childhood, and think more about correct definitions
Synonyms and explanations of categorical relationships appear in their definitions of words
They begin to learn multiple definitions of words
This allows them to understand metaphors, and to begin using riddles and puns that alternate between different meanings of a key word



During the school years, complex grammatical construction improves
English-speaking children become more skilled in using the passive voice
We also see advanced understanding of infinitive phrases
Children at this age understand the difference between “John is eager to please” and “John is easy to please”


passive voice

Verbs are also said to be either active (The executive committee approved the new policy) or passive (The new policy was approved by the executive committee) in voice. In the active voice, the subject and verb relationship is straightforward: the subject is a be-er or a do-er and the verb moves the sentence along. In the passive voice, the subject of the sentence is neither a do-er or a be-er, but is acted upon by some other agent or by something unnamed (The new policy was approved).



In middle childhood, children
Can adapt to the needs of the listener in challenging communicative situations
Peer interaction contributes to this, because peers will challenge unclear messages that adults accept
Show gains in the ability to evaluate the clarity of others’ messages
Begin to understand illocutionary intent
Can integrate two competing representations
More sensitive to what people say and what they mean

Narratives increase in organization, detail, and expressiveness
In the first part of middle childhood, children begin adding orienting information and connectives to their narratives
Later in middle childhood, they add resolutions and evaluative comments

Children who can tell narratives skillfully often show improvements in reading comprehension
Spending time with parents, such as talking over a meal, seems to help with this development


illocutionary intent

In uttering the locution "Is there any salt?" at the dinner table, one may thereby perform the illocutionary act of requesting salt,


Contrary to early claims, children who learn two languages in infancy

Separate the language systems
Distinguish the sounds of both systems
Master equivalent words in each language
Attain early language milestones according to a typical timetable


Children who become fluent in two languages

Develop denser gray matter in areas of the left hemisphere devoted to language
Are advanced in cognitive development, outperforming others on tests of selective attention, analytical reasoning, concept formation, and cognitive flexibility
Are advanced in certain aspects of metalinguistic awareness, such as detection of errors in grammar and meaning


Ways of Learning Two Languages

Bilingual children may learn in 2 ways:
1. Acquire both languages at the same time in early childhood
2. Learn a second language after mastering the first


Learning Two Languages at a School

About 7% of Canadian elementary school children are enrolled in language immersion programs, usually English-speaking children learning French
By 6th grade, children in immersion programs achieve as well as their counterparts in the regular English programs
Canadian schools are also encouraged to provide programs that maintain the languages and cultures of immigrants and to promote First Nations languages, although these programs are in short supply

In the US, there’s a somewhat different story
A debate is raging about whether immigrant children should be educated in their native languages or in English
There’s concern that English education may promote semilingualism
Others suggest that teaching these children English in school could work as well as Canadian immersion programs


Class Size

Children in small classes (13-17 students) tend to do better in reading and math achievement than do those in regular (22-25) classes, even if there’s a teacher’s aide
Children in small classes are more likely to graduate from high school


Educational Philosophy
Traditional classroom

an elementary school classroom in which the teacher is the sole authority for knowledge, rules, and decision making and students are relatively passive learners who are evaluated in relation to a uniform set of standards


Educational Philosophy
Constructivist classroom

a classroom in which students are active learners who are encouraged to construct their own knowledge, the teacher guides and supports in response to children’s needs, and students are evaluated by considering their progress in relation to their own prior development


Educational Philosophy
Social-constructivist classroom

a classroom in which children participate in a wide range of challenging activities with teachers and peers, with whom they jointly construct understandings
These classrooms take into consideration Vygotskian ideas such as
Teachers and children as partners in learning
Experience with many types of symbolic communication and meaningful activities
Teaching adapted to each child’s zone of proximal development


Educational Philosophies

Traditional classroom
Constructivist classroom

Which works better?
Older elementary school children in traditional classrooms do slightly better on achievement tests
Children in constructivist settings show other benefits
Gains in critical thinking
Greater social and moral maturity
More positive attitudes toward school

Social-constructivist classroom
Reciprocal teaching
Communities of learners - classrooms in which both teachers and students have the authority to define and resolve problems, drawing on the expertise of one another and of others as they work toward project goals, which often address complex, real-world issues
Usually involves long-term projects
Often with small groups assigned sub-topics, and individuals taking responsibility for parts of the sub-topics


Educational Philosophy
Reciprocal teaching

a teaching method in which a teacher and two to four students form a cooperative group, within which dialogues occur that create a zone of proximal development
Focus on cognitive strategies of
This tends to lead to impressive gains in reading comprehension


Educational Philosophy
Communities of learners

classrooms in which both teachers and students have the authority to define and resolve problems, drawing on the expertise of one another and of others as they work toward project goals, which often address complex, real-world issues
Usually involves long-term projects
Often with small groups assigned sub-topics, and individuals taking responsibility for parts of the sub-topics


Teacher-Student Interaction

Teacher-student interaction tends to have greater impact on low-SES students and other children at risk for learning difficulties than on higher-SES students


Teaching Children with Special Needs

Inclusive classrooms - classrooms in which students with learning difficulties learn alongside typical students in a regular educational setting
This is designed to
• Prepare students with learning difficulties for participation in society
• Combat prejudices against individuals with disabilities

Some of the students in inclusive classroom shave mild mental retardation, but most have learning disabilities
This could mean specific problems with reading, math, attention…
It’s believed that these are often the result of subtle deficits in brain functioning

There’s debate about whether or not inclusive classrooms really help
• Some included students benefit academically, but many don’t
• Children with disabilities often are rejected by their peers in regular classrooms
• Students with mental retardation may be overwhelmed by the social skills of their classmates and unable to interact with them well

Children with learning difficulties often do best when they spend part of the day in a regular classroom and part receiving instruction in a resource room
The majority of school-age children with learning disabilities say they prefer this type of arrangements
The amount of time spend in a regular classroom, and the subjects learned with the rest of the class, would depend on their ability and progress

It’s often helpful if
There are cooperative learning and peer-tutoring experiences
The teacher prepares the class in advance fro the arrival of a student with special needs



Gifted - displaying exceptional intellectual strengths, including high IQ, creativity, and talent
In terms of high IQ, 130 is often set as the cut-off for the designation of gifted

Children who are extremely gifted are often socially isolated
Some gifted children try to hide their abilities to fit in more
Gifted youths, particularly those who are profoundly gifted, report more emotional and social difficulties, including low self-esteem and depression

Gifted children can easily lose motivation in regular school programs
They do best when they can choose topics for extended projects, take intellectual risks, reflect on ideas, and interact with like-minded peers, but are not pushed excessively hard by parents and teachers

Existing paradigms include
Providing enrichment in regular classrooms
Pulling gifted children out for special instruction
Advancing brighter students to a higher grade
Gifted children usually fare well academically and socially in any of these

The child’s self-esteem needs to be taken into account when selecting programs
Some programs now provide enrichment to all students in diverse subjects, allowing any child capable of high-level performance in an area to work on that strength



Creativity - the ability to produce work that is original yet appropriate—something that others have not thought of but that is useful in some way
Often considered to be more dependent on divergent thinking, whereas IQ tests tend to be based more on convergent thinking



Talent - outstanding performance in a specific feeling
Excellence in creative writing, mathematics, science, music, visual arts, athletics, and leadership often shows itself in specialized skills first seen in childhood
Highly talented children are biologically prepared to master their domain of interest, and tend to display a passion for doing so
Accomplishment depends on more than just natural talent, though—a supportive environment is paramount


How Well-Educated Are North American Children?

Canada falls among the high-performing nations in math achievement, though below Hong Kong, Korea, and Japan
The US falls below the international average, barely making it into the intermediate-performing nations category
What differences do we see in education between the highest of the high-performing nations and the US (and to some extent, Canada)?

Cultural valuing of academic achievement
Including higher respect and salaries for teachers
Emphasis on effort
High-quality education for all
Ability grouping doesn’t exist in Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese elementary schools
Topics are often taught in greater depth
More time devoted to instruction
Longer school years and school days (though with extra recesses and field trips)
More of the teacher’s time and attention devoted to instruction, rather than peripheral concerns


Educational self-fulfilling prophecies

Students become what their teachers expect them to become.


Grouping in schools

Homogeneous – can cause self-fulfilling prophecy
Heterogeneity – (More favorable: academic achievement, self-esteem, attitudes)
Multigrade classrooms – one way to encourage heterogeneity (decreases competition, teaching each other
Cooperative learning


Cooperative learning

Cooperative learning is an educational approach which aims to organize classroom activities into academic and social learning experiences. There is much more to Cooperative Learning than merely arranging students into groups, and it has been described as "structuring positive interdependence."[1][2] Students must work in groups to complete tasks collectively toward academic goals. Unlike individual learning, which can be competitive in nature, students learning cooperatively can capitalize on one another’s resources and skills (asking one another for information, evaluating one another’s ideas, monitoring one another’s work, etc.).[3][4] Furthermore, the teacher's role changes from giving information to facilitating students' learning.


Computers for nongame use

Academic progress
Free flow writing – longer, better quality
Programing – problem-solving
Digital divide – ses and gender


Divergent thinking
Convergent Thinking

Divergent thinking is a thought process or method used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions. It is often used in conjunction with convergent thinking, which follows a particular set of logical steps to arrive at one solution, which in some cases is a "correct" solution. Divergent thinking typically occurs in a spontaneous, free-flowing manner, such that many ideas are generated in an emergent cognitive fashion. Many possible solutions are explored in a short amount of time, and unexpected connections are drawn. After the process of divergent thinking has been completed, ideas and information are organized and structured using convergent thinking.[1]

Convergent thinking is the type of thinking that focuses on coming up with the single, well-established answer to a problem.[1] It is oriented toward deriving the single best, or most often correct answer to a question. Convergent thinking emphasizes speed, accuracy, and logic and focuses on recognizing the familiar, reapplying techniques, and accumulating stored information.



Outstanding performance in a specific field