Ch. 9

Attainments of Concrete Operational Stage
7 to 11 years
Far more logical, flexible, and organized compared with early childhood
The ability to pass conservation tasks provides clear evidence of operations—mental actions that obey logical rules.
Focusing on several aspects of a problem and relating them.
Ex: Equal amount of water poured into 2 different shaped glasses show same amount of water (“Water is shorter but also wider.”)
Thinking through a series of steps and then mentally reversing direction
Ex: child realizes that a ball of clay, once flattened, can be made into a ball of clay again.
Children pass the class inclusion problem between ages 7 and 10.
Collecting and classifying items become common.
Focus on relations of categories/subcategories
Ex: Collecting/organizing baseball cards
Ability to order items along a quantitative dimensions (becomes efficient around 6-7 years)
Transitive inference: ability to seriate mentally (appears around 7 years)
Ex: arrange sticks from shortest to longest
Limitations of Concrete Operational Thought
Operations are concrete: applied to information children can perceive directly work poorly with abstract ideas.
Continuum of acquisition: children master concrete operational tasks gradually, step by step.
Children work out the logic of each problem separately instead of coming up with general logical principles that they apply to all relevant situations.
Ex: “Susan is taller than Sally, and Sally is taller than Mary. Who is the tallest?”
Ex: Grasp #, length, liquid, mass, and then weight (step by step)
Follow-up Research on Concrete Operational Thought
Culture and schooling affect task performance
Ex: Going to school provides experiences relevant to Piagetian tasks.
Ex: In tribal and village societies, where children rarely attend school, even basic conservation tasks are often delayed until age 11 or later.
Some researchers conclude that the forms of logic required by Piagetian tasks do not emerge spontaneously but are heavily influenced by training, context, and cultural conditions.
Information-Processing View of Concrete Operational Thought
Examines separate aspects of thinking.
Neo-Piagetians: gains in information-processing speed, rather than shift to a new stage
Automatic schemas free working memory
In Robbie Case’s neo-Piagetian theory, repeated practice of cognitive schemes leads them to become more automatic.
Ex: water poured from 1 container to another… the child sees this repeatedly
Key Gains in Info. Processing
Working memory
Flexible strategy use
Cognitive self-regulation
Rehearsal Memory
(early grade school)
repeating information to oneself
(early grade school)
grouping related items together
(end of middle childhood)
creating a relationship between pieces of information not in the same category
Theory of Mind
Understanding of mental activity becomes more elaborate and refined.
-attention & concentration increase
-mental inferences
-false-belief knowledge
Promoting Cognitive Self-Regulation
Point out important features of tasks.
Stress importance of learning.
Suggest effect learning strategies.
Emphasize monitoring of progress.
Children who acquire effective self-regulatory skills develop a sense of academic self-efficacy.
Ex: Aware that items should be grouped when memorizing, reread complicated paragraph for better understanding, and relate new info to what he already knows.
Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test
Contains nonverbal subtests that do not require spoken language.
The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children
The first test to be standardized on children representing the total population of the United States.
Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of Successful Intelligence
intelligence comes in three forms: analytical, creative, and practical
Analytical Intelligence
Apply strategies
Acquire task relevant & metacognitive knowledge
Engage in self- regulation
Creative Intelligence
Solve novel problems
Make processing skills automatic to free working memory for complex thinking
Practical Intelligence
Adapting to…
Shaping to… or
Selecting environments to meet both personal goals and and demands of one’s everyday world.
Emotional Intelligence
Set of emotional abilities that enable individuals to process and adapt to emotional information.
Positively associated with self-esteem and prosocial behavior.
Ex: Teachers who want to foster students’ emotional intelligence use active learning techniques that provide skill practice in: respect and caring for others; resistance to unfavorable peer pressure.
Nature, Nurture, and IQ Controversy
IQ = heredity and environment.
Ex (nature): On the basis of twin studies and other kinship evidence, researchers estimate that about half of the differences in IQ among children can be traced to their genetic makeup.
Ex (nurture): when children of low-IQ mothers are adopted at birth by parents who are well above average in income and education, they score above average in IQ during the school years.
Ethnic differences = environmental.
Ex (ethnicity): differences in SES do not fully explain the IQ gap between black and white American children.
Tests not biased
represent success in the common culture
Ex: minority groups have same advantages as white-caucasians
Test is biased
many intelligence tests sample knowledge and skills that not all groups of children have had equal opportunity to learn.
Cultural influences affect test performance: communication styles, test content, stereotypes
Ex: Child tests poorly but can play a complex game on playground
Effects of Stereotype Threat on Performance
If the child is aware of ethnic stereotypes, he or she will perform far worse when told that they are taking a test
increases 4x during school years
Ex: 20 new words a day
Mastery of complex construction improves
Ex: passive voice, infinitive phrases
Adjust to people and situations
Ex: Phrase requests to get what they want
Pragmatics and Culture: Caucasian-American children
Topic-focused style
Describing an experience from beginning to end.
Pragmatics and Culture: African-American children
Topic-associating narrative style
Blending several similar anecdotes.
Ex: narratives are usually longer and more complex than those of white children.
Teacher-Student Interaction: Teacher
caring, helpful, stimulating, emphasizing high-level thinking—fosters achievement
use of repetitive drill, bias in favor of well-behaved students—impedes achievement
Teacher-Student Interaction: Self-fulfilling prophecies
Children adapt to teachers’ positive or negative views and start living up to them.
Have greater impact on low-achieving students
Esp. strong when teachers emphasize competition and publicly compare children.
Homogeneous ability groups
a potent source of negative self-fulfilling prophecies
Students of similar ability learn together
Multigrade classrooms
Combine 2-3 adjacent grades
Produce students who perform better academically.
Spacial Reasoning
Understanding of space (better than preschooler’s)
Landmarks & organized route of travel.
Can give directions using “Mental walk”
Ex: Cognitive maps
Cognitive maps
mental representations of familiar large-scale spaces, such as their neighborhood.
Requires considerable perspective-taking skill because the entire space cannot be seen at once.

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