Dr. Arnold Gesell’s Incomplete Man Test: Gender Variation Across the Ages By: Kayleigh Zeppa
“Unfortunately, we are too inclined to talk of man as it would be desirable for him to be rather than as he really is….True education can proceed only from naked reality, not from any ideal illusion about man, however attractive.” Carl Jung
Dr. Arnold Lucius Gesell • 1880-1961 • Psychologist and Pediatrician from Wisconsin • Received his M.D. from Yale • Established and directed Yale Clinic of Child Development from 1911-1948 • Established Gesell Institute of Child Development in New Haven, CT in 1950
Dr. Arnold Lucius Gesell • Biological Maturationist • Development leads learning • Developed behavioral/age norms • School Readiness Tests • All children pass through the same developmental stages, just at different rates • Creator of one of the first infant intelligence tests • Identified three basic principles of growth: Reciprocal Interweaving, Functional Asymmetry, Self-Regulation
Words To Know • Biological Maturation- the idea that a child’s behavior unfolds according to his or her genetic blueprint, or inner timetable • Developmental/Age Norms- a set of intellectual characteristics attributed to each age group. • ‘School Readiness’- This is the term Gesell used to describe what his tests determine. They are a means of deciphering whether a child is developmentally ready to enter a school environment
More Words To Know • Reciprocal interweaving- the developmental process by which two tendencies gradually reach an effective organization • Functional asymmetry- as humans, we have a degree of asymmetry that is highly functional. We are most effective when we confront the world from an angle • Self-regulation- the belief that intrinsic developmental mechanisms are powerful enough to regulate its own development to a certain degree
Where Would I Place Gesell? Montessori NATURE NURTURE Rousseau Piaget Locke Gesell Vygotsky
Gesell’s School Readiness Tests • Developed interviews, paper and pencil tests, visual tests, naming and identification, and many others • There is one in particular that I am basing my experiment on: The Incomplete Man Test • A drawing of a man who is only halfway completed (e.g.. missing a leg, an arm, facial features, etc.) is administered to a child. Based on how the child completes the man (how many body parts the child adds) one can decipher his or her developmental stage.
The Experiment • How do the results of the Incomplete Man Test vary between genders? • Does this variation increase, decrease, or remain relatively the same with age? • Is this still the case today? • If so, has this variation remained stable? • What information, if any, does Gesell offer as explanation for the variation in development between genders?
What Did Gesell Say About Gender Differences? • Girls add more parts than boys do, on the average, from 5 to 8 years of age. • Girls are ahead of boys in achieving good length of leg, adding a pupil to the eye, and completing the neck area. • Boys are ahead of girls in placement and direction of arm, making good fingers, and placing ear correctly. • Other differences are small and variable. From School Readiness by Frances L. Ilg and Louise Bates Ames
The Test • I administered the Incomplete Man Test to first graders, third graders, and fifth graders at Gilbert Elementary • I then divided the results by gender and by age • Analyzed and compared data between genders in each age group to find out differences between genders, and whether those differences increase, decrease, or remain the same over time.
My Hypothesis • I predict that, through administering Gesell’s Incomplete Man Test to a group of first graders, third graders, and fifth graders, the results will still show an apparent variation between genders in scoring, and that this gap in development will slowly disappear as age increases. • I also believe that girls will still be roughly 6 months ahead of boys developmentally, and that this difference between genders will decrease over time.
Grading Rubric for Incomplete Man Test *An extra point will be given for each extra part (i.e. eyebrows, lips, clothes)
My Incomplete Man TestGender Results for Grade 1 *50% of the boys were 7 years old, the other 50% were 6 years old *30% of the girls were 7 years old, the other 70% were 6 years old
My Incomplete Man TestGender Results for Grade 3 *60% of the girls were 8 years old, the other 40% were 9 years old *60% of the boys were 8 years old, 20% were 9 years old, and 20% were 10 years old
My Incomplete Man TestGender Results for 5th Grade *71% of 5th grade boys were 11 years old *50% of 5th grade girls were 11 years old
How Did My Results Compare With Gesell’s? • My results showed the complete opposite of Gesell’s! • Boys started out visibly ahead in first grade, but then the girls ended up being ahead by 5th grade. • The gap between genders did, for the most part, level out by 5th grade
Things To Notice • Many of the kids drew the foot backwards. This is most likely because of children's’ tendency to imitate what they see. • A lot of kids thought that the line for the nose was an eye • Why is it that my results are so drastically different from Gesell’s? • My pool of students was much more limited. • The students I tested were lower on the SES than the students that Gesell tested. • The students I tested were mostly Hispanic.
So What About the Test? This experiment leads to another question: Is the Incomplete Man Test a reliable way to gauge the developmental level and therefore “readiness” of a child?
Things I Would Do Differently • Test a much larger group of students • Develop a more complex grading system-something more along the lines of the point system Gesell used • Accompany the test with interview and other tests