Notebook, 1993-

Return to - Notes for a Perspective on Art Education -- Child Development -- Human Development

Motor Development 0-18 Months -- Ainsworth's Phases of Attachment -- The Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale -- Drawing Sequence / Evolution of Spontaneous Abilities -- Erick Erikson's Stages of Psychosocial Dilemma -- Selman's Role-Taking Levels -- Kohlbergs Stages of Moral Development -- Language Development -- Parten's Play Stages -- Piaget's Cognitive Stages -- Piaget's - Cognitive Operations -- Contrasting Characteristics of Prenatal and Postnatal Life -- Stages of Prenatal Development

Notes below from: Zigler, Edward F. and Matia Finn-Stevensen, Yale University. Children, Development and Social Issues, D.C. Heath and Company, Lexington, MA & Toronto, 1987. -- Cognitive Development -- Physical Development -- Social and Emotional Development

Cognitive Development
During Middle

Ages 7 - 12 years

"Cognitive style refers to the manner in which the individual perceives and responds to information in the environment . . . . some children are reflective in their approach to tasks, others are impulsive . . . . "

"Cognitive growth does not occur in stages all at once, as each individual possesses a number of abilities, each at different levels of development. Within each stage there are gradual and transitional changes which occur at different times depending on the particular abilities . . . . " (Flavell, 1985)

Middle Childhood years. The child begins formal schooling. Education is to be taken seriously. The change in adults' expectations of their abilities. Significant changes in development occur at this time which make the child amenable to the demands of the school and of increased responsibility. Ability to give sustained attention to the task at hand--enabling the child to engage in academic tasks and to profit from formal instruction.

The Concrete Operations Period. Greater flexibility of thought. Ability to think logically. Capable of organizing ideas in a systematic fashion. Thinking is no longer dominated by immediate visual impressions. Able to perform mental operations. Can mentally transform, modify, or otherwise manipulate what she sees or hears according to logical rules. Learns to add, subtract, multiply and divide. Aware that one mental activity is related to another--Can reverse the process. Can mentally manipulate information--is operational. But only on concrete and tangible objects or on signs of these objects (as in word problems)--not in hypothetical ideas. Able to approach problemsolving in a more precise and logical manner--having acquired these mental abilities:

Reversibility. Ability to perform mental inversions, or to mentally undo a sequence of actions. This enhances ability to figure out mathematical problems, and draw conclusions about observed outcomes on the basis of prior relationships--not just concrete or tangible appearances. This evidences sensitivity to distinctions between what seems to be and what really is.

Decenter. The child can focus on multiple features of an object at the same time. Takes into account all relevant perceptual data and can focus on both the height and the width of the glass at the same time.

Reciprocity. Ability to recognize that a change in one feature is balanced by an equal and opposite change in another. Realizes that one feature, such as the narrowness of the glass, makes up or compensates for its other feature, height, so that a shorter but wider glass holds the same amount of milk as the tall but narrow glass. Reciprocal Relationships--the length in one row is compensated for by the density of the other row.

Conservation. The ability to recognize that two equal quantities remain equal even if one is changed in some way--as long as nothing has been added or taken away. Is not evident all at once, but emerges gradually over three stages. Gradually acquires the ability to conserve number, length, mass, area, weight, and volume of objects and substances--although not all the properties of objects and substances at one time, because these abilities emerge in sequence.

Uneveness in Development. First they conserve number, then length, liquid quantity, mass, area, weight, and volume in that order--Piaget referred to this as horizontal dÚcalage (French word for gap). Since concepts vary in difficulty, the child masters some of these earlier than others. Some researchers argue may arise from environmental influence--some may have more experience with liquids or clay. Some feel that they do not generalize this knowledge to other properties, so they have to go through the process of learning to conserve each property. Neo-Piagetians focus on specific behaviors, noting that during each stage of cognitive development the child exhibits some behaviors which are characteristic of that stage and some which are characteristic of the previous or next period of development. In other words, some researchers claim that cognitive growth does not occur in stages all at once, as each individual possesses a number of abilities, each at different levels of development. Within each stage there are gradual and transitional changes which occur at different times depending on the particular abilities (Flavell, 1985). [Different "applications" of cognitive strengths. Some basic "revelations" as to specific application may arise at much later stages--which means some may engage in some practices more than others-- revealing or leading to tendencies.]

The Concept of Number. One to one correspondence. May do a lot of re-counting at first.

Classification. An understanding of "more than" and "less than" and of the fact that one number is included in another. That # 2 is part of # 3, which in turn is included in #4. Ability to understand that there is a hierarchical relationship between subordinate and superordinate classes. The ability to understand the hierarchical structure inherent in classification has far-reaching implications. It aids the child's understanding of the social world and the multiple roles people play, and it also enhances her ability to learn such subjects as geography, which entails an awareness that a large area such as a continent contains several smaller areas, known as countries, which in turn contain even smaller areas--states, counties, cities, and towns.

Seriation. The ability to arrange objects in an orderly series--it demonstrates systematic, planful thinking on the part of the child. Helps the child construct a logical view of reality. Able to engage in transitive reasoning.

Transitive reasoning. The ability to recognize a relationship between two objects by knowing their relationship to a third.

Environmental Influences on the Attainment of Concrete Operational Thought. May not be age-specific, but is sequential--according to Piaget. Crosscultural studies confirm the fact that children all over the world follow the same sequence of development, proceeding from the sensori-motor period to the preoperational, and then to the concrete operations period. However, the rate at which children progress through one period and into the next differs among the different cultures and within cultures. Piaget regarded intelligence as the process of adapting to the environment and that cognitive development depends on the child's experiences and interaction with the environment. Depending on their experiences, therefore, children from different backgrounds will vary in the rate that they acquire various cognitive concepts. The variations in the rate of development do not reflect differences in competence, but rather differences in the types of skills that are valued by the different cultural groups. (Cole & Scribner, 1974).

The Role of Training. By receiving feedback, preoperational children can be helped to attend to relevant dimensions and can be trained to conserve. Several other studies, however, demonstrate that training or other specific experiences such as observing others perform on similar tasks may accelerate children's acquisition of concepts. Wohlwill (1970) notes that the reasoning of preschool children is eventually outgrown, but it may remain useful later in life in the process of imaginative or creative acts. It may be that if children are hurried through the natural course of cognitive development, the early processes of cognition will not be fully incorporated into their cognitive apparatus and that as adults these children will not be as imaginative or creative as they would otherwise have been.

Piaget and Education. He argued that an important aspect of the progress in cognitive development that occurs during the concrete operations period is physiological maturation, since without refinement and differentiation of the central nervous system, thinking could not become more elaborate. Also important is the child's interaction with adults and peers. But according to Piaget, at the core of the progress in cognitive growth is the child's self-initiated interactions with her physical surroundings. Thus, "each time one prematurely teaches a child something he could discover for himself, that child is kept from inventing it and consequently from understanding it completely" (Piaget, 1970) [What is understood is then used--and only what is understood--broadening the range.]

Open classroom. Children are not stationed--they choose from a variety of activity centers that are placed around the room, and they progress from one center to another at their own pace. Promotes certain skills such as creativity and social interaction. Traditional setting more effective for the transmission of academic tasks. And, more suitable for some children than others. Teachers have different approaches.

Information Processing. In order to understand their environment and progress in their ability to solve problems, children must be able to acquire and process information. They must register what they see or hear, store that information, and later retrieve it and apply it to new experiences. Analogous to a computer. Child's cognitive performance and her learning are based on her ability to receive, or encode, information, as well as to sore it and later to retrieve it. Does this though basic cognitive processes such as perception and memory. These processes function together to combine in the activity referred to as thinking. Present at every age. However, they undergo incremental changes as the child grows older. Describe the changes in the child's cognitive development not in a qualitative way as does Piaget, but quantitatively. They explain that the school-age child's ability to approach problem solving in a logical manner is dependent upon increased ability to process information.

Selective Attention. The ability to focus on relevant aspects of the environment and to disregard irrelevant aspects. With age, children become increasingly ale to selectively attend to stimuli and better able to control their attentional processes and concentrate on a specific task. That is, they are less easily distracted by irrelevant stimuli and more flexible in shifting their attention from one stimulus to another. Reflected in the length of lessons children are taught in school.

Memory. Ability to pay attention to a task enhances children's capacity for memory. Child can build upon what she already knows, and this aids her ability to solve problems and acquire new knowledge.

Sensory memory. Impressions are retained for less tan a second and ten transferred into sort-term memory.

Short-term memory. Information is stored for a brief period of time--about 30 seconds. Then, must resort to some mental technique or strategy to facilitate your ability to remember longer. Differences in use and ability-- is very apparent in child's ability to take in the spelling of a work--go slowly while the child applies (writes each letter) the incoming information. Can eventually handle more bits or pieces of information at a time--longer directions, etc.

Long-term memory. Anything longer than the 30 second time frame.

Mneumonic devices. Various techniques to facilitate memory:

Rehearsal = repetition of item to be remembered.

Organization. The grouping of items to be remembered into groups or clusters of information. The schools age child is better ale to use this strategy than the preschool child because of acquiring the ability to classify objects according to different categories--for exampel, can remember more words in a list because of the ability to organize.

Metamemory. An intuitive understanding of how the memory works--acquired during middle childhood school years. Realization that some situations which require that one employ a planned strategy for remembering, and one not only knows what techniques will facilitate one's ability to remember, one also knows when the information one is committing to memory is sufficiently memorized.

Metalinguistic Awareness. Intuitive awareness of how language works. Emerges at about age 5 and is enhanced during middle childhood years--further expansions in language development continue to occur between the ages of 6 and 12. Matalinquistic awareness enables the child to think about language and is evident in two basic changes that occur during the middle childhood years in the child's understanding and use of language. Ability to think about language increases communicative competence.

Communicative Competence. It is an ability to think about what one is being told and to judge whether the message being conveyed to you is clear. Acquire ability to understand complex grammatical sentences and, as well, more precise meaning of words and their correct use.

Syntax. The underlying grammatical rules that specify the order and function of words in a sentence, develops throughout the middle childhood years as the child becomes better able to understand the connections between words.

Understanding Metaphors. Language also becomes increasingly nonliteral--to understand that some words have a literal as well as a nonliteral meaning. A metaphor relies on the use of a word or a phrase out of context to suggest an unexpected similarity. Sweet and bright, for example.

Humor. Love to engage in play on words and to tell jokes that involve double meanings. Some kind of reclassification of a key word is required--a feat which children are not capable of until the concrete operations period. Speed of reclassification is important to appreciate the humor in the riddle--and child must keep both meanings of the word in mind at the same time and shift attention back and forth between meanings--using ability for reversibility of thought. Offers a moderate amount of intellectual challenge and surprise.

Bilingualism and Black English. Complexity of the issue. Language different from the English children are likely to encounter in schools, in textbooks, and on tests. Standard English is the primary means of communication and instruction in schools.

The School as a Learning Environment. The school curriculum and format of exchange plays an important role in terms of a child's values, self-esteem, achievements and aspirations, and learning. The specific content may vary, but the basic format for the exchange of information remains constant no matter what subject matter is being taught or the age of the children in the class.

Informal learning occurs outside of the school in experiences in which there are many concrete instances for observations and trial and error and imitation. There is a relatively free give and take in conversations in which the child engages.

Formal learning occurs in school where the child is required to learn concepts that are set apart from their concrete referents. The child must follow specific verbal instructions about how to carry out certain tasks. The teacher dominates the exchange of information, and the child learns limitations involved in group participation.

History. Although teaching children in schools is a relatively new phenomenon, throughout the centuries adult members of society regarded it as their right and responsibility to modify the thinking of the young and to transmit to them knowledge and values, and they did so informally in the context of children's everyday experiences. As society became more complex, the education of children became more structured and was delegated to teachers within the formal setting of the school. For a time, formal schooling was reserved for the children of the very rich. About a century ago, schooling in America became not only universally available, but also compulsory, and the schools have since grown to serve more children for a greater number of years. In most countries in which formal schooling is compulsory, children begin school some time between the ages of 5 and 7. This is because during this period, the child experiences a number of significant changes in development which make her amenable to the demands of the school milieu. Not only does the child become better able to follow instructions, as we have shown, and also better able to apply reasoning and memory skills to problem solving, she also becomes capable of paying attention for increasingly longer periods of time so she is better able to concentrate on learning specific tasks. Beyond these and other changes in mental development, the school-age child also experiences changes in social development which further enable her to profit from schooling. For example, the child at that age has the capacity to learn and operate according to rules, which is an ability that is basic for all lasting social exchange. The ability to learn rules makes formal education possible because most of what children learn as they acquire academic skills are rules. In learning to read, for example, they learn phonetic rules (the letter e at the end of a word is sometimes silent); in learning to write they learn spelling rules (i comes before e except after c).

Cross-Cultural Studies. Although it has been recognized that the child's ability to profit from formal instruction is dependent upon her attainment of a certain level of cognitive and social maturity, researchers in recent years have also wondered whether the school experience can enhance the child's cognitive functioning. To this end, they have taken advantage of a naturally occurring experiment made possible by the fact that although most societies have some form of schooling, it is neither compulsory nor universally available in many nontechnological societies. Hence, researchers have been able to compare the cognitive abilities of samples of children who vary in their amount of school experience. There are some limitations to these cross-cultural studies (Rogoff, 1981; Super, 1980). Nevertheless, the results of these studies have shown that children who attend school do better on some cognitive skills such as memory and classification (Stevenson, 1982; Sharp, Cole, & Lave, 1979), suggesting that to an extent, school experience does influence cognitive ability. Researchers have also found that school experience enhances language development. Children who attend school are more proficient in their use of language than are children from the same cultural background who do not attend school. They use a greater number of words to recount an experience and they are more verbally explicit (Scribner, 1977). This finding is not surprising since language is the primary means of interaction and exchange of information in school.... Schools also enable children to acquire a considerable amount of knowledge so that through their school experiences, children's understanding of their world is enhanced. Even more importantly, in school, children learn such basic skills as reading, writing, and arithmetic, which, in our society at least, are essential to functioning in adult life. Once they acquire such skills, children can apply them in all kinds of situations in school and later in life. Although by the time they enter first grade most children have the ability to learn to read, write, and solve numerical problems, not all children actually learn these sills. A recent report of the National Commission on Excellence in Education (1983) documents the failure of many children in our country to acquire basic skills. Several other studies offer an equally negative description of the scholastic achievements of American children, indicating that children's average levels of achievement are low not only in relation to their peers of previous years, but, perhaps even more disturbingly, in relation to their present-day counterparts in other countries (Stevenson, 1983; Lynn, 1982). These findings are of major concern. Children who do not succeed in school and who fail to acquire basic skills will be unable to successfully negotiate life as adults. The findings are also of concern regarding the nation's future advances in technology, science, and industry.... The rising anxiety about the deterioration in school performance among children has produced a number of recommendations for educational reform, a discussion of which is beyond the scope of this book. From the perspective of developmental psychology, however, it is important to note that there are many reasons why some children fail to achieve their potential for learning. Recall from our previous discussions that prenatal factors and the child's health and nutritional status affect her ability to learn. In addition, you will see in this and the next chapter that the influences of the family, the peer group, and society can aid or impede the child's school achievement, as can various school practices....

Motivation is a basic ingredient of the child's learning. Children are born with an intrinsic motivation to learn and to understand the world around them, an aspect of development which Robert White (1959) refers to as Competence motivation. Competence motivation helps explain individuals' interest in their environment and their ability to persist in learning even difficult things such as how to read and write, how to ride a bicycle, or how to swim. A child's motivation for learning can increase or diminish over time, depending, in part, on other people's reactions to her efforts. Harter and Zigler (1974) and Harter (1983) note that from birth the child is motivated to learn, and she makes an independent effort to do so. Her efforts in turn produce either positive or negative reinforcement both from the child's own perceptions of her performance and from important adults in her life such as her parents and teachers. When the reinforcement is positive and the child feels she succeeded, she is motivated to continue to learn and enjoy learning. When the reinforcement is negative, the child comes to regard herself as a failure, and her motivation to learn decreases, so she avoids challenges, comes to depend on adults more, and continues to fail as the cycle feeds on itself. Reinforcement does not have to be tangible, however. It may be verbal approval or disapproval of what the child is doing, but it may also occur in other instances, such as when the child feels pleasure in what she is doing. The approval of important people in their life--parents, relative, and teachers--is usually a strong positive reinforcer for children. Indifference to the children's effort serves as a negative reinforcer, sometimes resulting in the children giving up on learning the task at hand. Some children, after repeated failures, come to believe that they cannot overcome failure.

Learned helplessness. This attitude, referred to as learned helplessness, inhibits the child in her learning. Children who feel helpless believe that they have no control over how well or badly they do in school, so they do not even try. They tend to attribute their failure to achieve not to their lack of effort, but to their bad luck, a bad teacher, or other factors which are beyond their control. (Seligman, 1975).

Family Influences. Parents and other adults also determine what the child will be motivated to learn, as observational learning is an important aspect of motivation.... Just as parental approval reinforces motivation, however, parents' indifference to the child can produce in her a feeling of inadequacy. In this case, the child may not only give up her efforts to learn the task, she may also be less willing to take up another task. Hence, researchers point out that the extent to which a child is motivated to succeed in school is often dependent on a warm and encouraging family atmosphere during the school-age years (Laosa & Sigel, 1982).... Evidence of the family's influence on academic achievement is also available from a recent study by Harold Stevenson (1983) who found that the academic achievement of American school children in reading and arithmetic lagged behind...their age mates in other countries not only in the upper elementary grades, but also in the first grade. This suggests that achievement problems may indeed lie not only in American schools but in American homes as well. Stevenson looked at various factors which could have contributed to the differences in achievement, asking: "Are American children less bright than the other children? Are their parents less educated? Are their teachers less experienced?" He found that none of these factors--intelligence, parental educational status, or teachers' experience and training--could be said to account for the lower levels of achievement among American school children. However, he found some differences between American parents and parents in Taiwan and Japan in the way they interacted with their children and in the expectations that they have of their children.....

Parental Involvement. Historically, schools and families are seen as having separate and distinct roles. The schools are charged with teaching children academic tasks while parents are charged with facilitating the children's moral and social development. Project Head Start, and its program Follow Through provide services to low-income elementary school children and their parents.

Anxiety. A factor which may inhibit he child's ability to succeed in school. Difficulties some children encounter in learning can mean the school becomes a negative experience.

Dyslexia. An impairment in the ability to read. Difficulty with spelling and other reading-related tasks--seeing letters and words upside down or reversed, and some may have impaired auditory perception so they cannot hear the sounds of language correctly, and others have frequent memory lapses so they cannot remember what words sound like.

Childhood aphasia. Inability to speak or comprehend what is being said.

Dyscalculia. Inability to calculate numbers.

Mainstreaming for handicapped children. Public Law 94-142. Guarantees every handicapped child an appropriate public education that is individually tailored to meet the child's specific needs. The majority are now being mainstreamed for at least part of their school day. They are expected to have the same opportunities for education that normal children do and to learn more social and academic skills than they would if they were educated in special education classes with other handicapped children. Debate. Question of properly trained teachers able to enhance the experience for special needs in question. A policy is a general guide for action with many aspects of real life situations to take into consideration.

Cognitive Style. Refers to the manner in which the individual perceives and responds to information in the environment. Recognizing that intellectual and verbal skills do not always account for academic problems some children encounter, Jerome Kagan (1965) noted that children's cognitive style plays a role in academic performance--some children are reflective in their approach to tasks, others are impulsive--the characteristic of thinking impulsively or reflectively is present not only in children's approach to cognitive tasks, but in other situations as well--such as play activity.

[Notes from: Zigler, Edward F. and Matia Finn-Stevensen, Yale University. Children, Development and Social Issues. Lexington, MA & Toronto:]



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