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Lecture 6. Middle and Late Childhood. Cognitive Development: Concrete Operations. Piaget believed that around the age of 7, children enter the concrete operational stage. Concrete operations: new forms of reasoning

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Lecture 6

Lecture 6

Middle and Late Childhood

Cognitive development concrete operations
Cognitive Development: Concrete Operations

  • Piaget believed that around the age of 7, children enter the concrete operational stage.

  • Concrete operations: new forms of reasoning

  • An operation is a mental action that is coordinated with other mental actions as part of a system.

  • Concrete: Operations relate directly to tangible objects and thoughts about objects (not to abstract propositions or possible future states of affairs).

  • Concrete operations transform all aspects of psychological functioning, according to Piaget. For example, children become skilled at taking intentions into account (morality).


  • A number of problem-solving tasks have been developed in order to diagnose presence or absence of concrete operational thinking.

Conservation tasks
Conservation tasks:

  • Conservation - > understanding that some properties of an object or substance remain the same even when its appearance is altered in some superficial way.

  • Conservation of liquid (continuous quantity):

  • Experimenter: "Are the amounts of liquid in the two glasses the same?"

  • Experimenter pours the contents of one of the glasses into a third glass that is taller and thinner. The liquid rises higher in the new glass.

  • Experimenter: "Does the new glass contain more liquid than the old glass, does it contain the same amount, or does it contain less"


  • 3- and 4-year-old children - > the taller glass has more water.

  • 5- to 6 year-old children - > transitional stage.

  • 8 year olds children - > acquired the concept of conservation.

  • Although obvious to adults, preoperational children lack conservation.

  • A lack of conservation demonstrates an inability to mentally reverse actions.


  • Identity: "They were equal to start with and nothing was added, so they are the same.”

  • Compensation: "The liquid is higher, but the glass is thinner."

  • Reversibility: "If you pour it back, you'll see that it's the same.”

  • Addition/Subtraction: "You did not add anything. You did not take anything away”

  • These ways of understanding indicate that children have attained a new stage of cognitive development.

  • Piaget: They are now capable of concrete operations.

  • Other tasks:Conservation of massConservation of numberConservation of area

Class inclusion
Class inclusion

  • 13 red plastic chips (ten round and three square chips) and 6 white plastic chips (three round and three square).

  • Entire collection of plastic chips in disarray - > ascertain child's comprehension.

  • Then the child is asked to lay all the white chips off to the side so that only the red chips remain.

  • Experimenter: "In this arrangement are there now more red chips or more round chips?”

  • Concrete operational answer:

    • "There are more red ones because they are all red"

    • There are more red ones, because the round ones and the square ones together are more than the round ones alone”

    • "There are more red ones, because the square chips are in there too"

Verbal classification
Verbal classification

  • Cats / animals

  • Roses / flowers

  • Volkswagen / cars

  • Boys or girls / children

  • Lego blocks / toys

  • People from Toronto / people from Canada

  • Investigation procedures and instructions: "What do you think? Are there more Volkswagens or are there more cars?"

  • “How do you know that? Can you tell me how you know that?”

  • Concrete operational justification

  • "There are more cars, because they are all cars."

  • "There are more cars, because cars don't come only from Volkswagen, but from companies like Ford too."

  • "There are more cars, because there are lots more cars than just Volkswagen cars."

Piaget and education
Piaget and Education

  • Take a constructivist approach.

  • Consider the child’s knowledge and level of thinking.

  • Turn the classroom into a setting of exploration and discovery.

Criticisms of piaget
Criticisms of Piaget

  • Stages -> Horizontal decalage

  • Estimates of children’s competence

  • Culture and education

What is intelligence
What Is Intelligence?

  • Intelligence is verbal ability, problem-solving skills, and the ability to adapt to and learn from life’s everyday experiences.

  • Intelligence cannot be directly measured.

  • Normal Distribution

The wechsler scales
The Wechsler Scales

  • David Wechsler developed tests to assess students’ intelligence:

    • The Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence-Revised (WPPSI-R) for ages 4-6½

    • The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) for ages 6-16.

    • The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS).

  • The Wechsler scales provide an overall IQ and yield verbal and performance IQs.

Gardner s eight frames of mind
Gardner’s Eight Frames of Mind

  • Verbal skills

  • Mathematical skills

  • Spatial skills

  • Bodily-kinesthetic skills

  • Musical skills

  • Interpersonal skills

  • Intrapersonal skills

  • Naturalist skills

Conclusions not shared by all psychologists
Conclusions (not shared by all psychologists):

  • 1. Human intelligent life is too multifaceted to be represented by a single number. IQ is an artificial psychological-mathematical abstraction.

  • 2. Intelligence can be conceptualized in many different ways.

  • 3. IQ is not a constant (Flynn effect).

  • 4. Some part of individual differences in performance on IQ tests can be attributed to heritability (as statistically conceptualized).

  • 5. Significant differences between the average IQ scores of "African Americans" and "white Americans" cannot be attributed to inherited differences.


  • 6. IQ tests measure only a small part of what is significant in mental life.

  • 7. IQ tests are not culture-fair.

  • 8. IQ tests may help when it comes to extremes and as a practical device.

  • 9. If you use IQ tests do so in order to help and not in order to sort and label.

  • 10. Psychologists must move to something more essential.

Giftedness creativity
Giftedness & Creativity

  • People who are gifted have above-average intelligence (an IQ of 120 or higher) and/or superior talent for something.

  • Creativity is the ability to think about something in novel and unusual ways and to come up with unique solutions to problems.

Achievment motivation school
Achievment Motivation & School

  • 10000-15000 hours in classrooms by graduation.

  • Children entering 1st grade take up a new role, interact and develop relationships with new significant others, adopt new reference groups, and develop new standards for judging themselves.

  • School provides children with a rich source of new ideas to shape their sense of self.

  • There is emerging concern about new evidence showing that early schooling proceeds mainly on the basis of negative feedback.

Weiner s attribution theory
Weiner's Attribution Theory:

  • Four possible causes of success or failure:

    • Ability (or thereof) (internal locus of control)

    • Effort (internal locus of control)

    • Task difficulty (external locus of control)

    • Luck (either good or bad) (external locus of control)

  • Children with an internal locus of control assume that they are personally responsible for what happens to them.

  • Children with an external locus of control believe that their outcomes depend more on luck, fate, or the actions of others.

  • Children with an internal locus of control earn higher grades and scores on academic achievement tests than children with an external locus of control do.

  • Consequences

    • It is not always adaptive to attribute what happens to internal causes.

    • Is it healthy to conclude from a failure that a child is seriously lacking in ability?

    • Before age 7: Children tend to be unrealistic optimists who think that they have the ability to succeed in almost any novel task.

    • Age 8 to 12: Children begin to distinguish effort from ability. Teachers place more and more emphasis on ability appraisals. Children use social comparison to appraise their outcomes - > students begin to distinguish effort from ability and to make causal attributions for their successes and failures.

    Dweck s learned helplessness theory
    Dweck's Learned-Helplessness Theory

    • Carol Dweck and her colleagues find that middle-school children clearly differ in the attributions they offer for their achievement outcomes, particularly for their failures.

    • Mastery oriented: Children attribute their successes to their high ability but tend to externalize the blame for their failures ("That test was ambiguous and unfair") or to attribute them to unstable causes that they can easily overcome ("I'll do better if I try harder").

    • Learned helplessness orientation: Children attribute their successes to the unstable factors of hard work or luck. Yet they attribute their failures to a stable and internal factor (lack of ability - > low expectations - > give up).

    • Children who display this learned helplessness syndrome might be highly talented students. Learned helplessness may persist over time and undermine the child's academic performance.

    How does learned helplessness develop
    How does learned helplessness develop?

    • Parents and teachers - > helpless achievement orientation: Praising the child for being neat or for working hard when child succeeds but criticizing lack of ability when child fails.

    • 4-6-year-olds can begin to develop a helpless orientation.

    • Parents and teachers praise the child's abilities when she succeeds but emphasize lack of effort when she fails - > the child may conclude that she is certainly smart enough and would do even better if she tried harder - > mastery-orientation.

    • Experiment: strikingly different attributional styles were created in less than one hour.

    Therapy attribution retraining
    Therapy: Attribution Retraining.

    • Dweck - > children who had become helpless after failing a series of tough math problems - > two "therapies."

    • (a) A success-only therapy - > worked problems they could solve - > tokens for successes.

    • (b) Attribution retraining. Were also told after each of several prearranged failures that they had not worked hard enough and should have tried harder - > failures - > lack of effort rather than a lack of ability.

    • Results: Helpless children in the attribution-retraining condition now performed much better on the tough math problems they had initially failed. Attributed their outcome to a lack of effort and tried harder.

    • Children in the success-only condition showed no such improvements, giving up once again after failing the original problems. So merely showing helpless children that they are capable of succeeding is not enough.

    • Recommendations: Parents and teachers should praise the child's abilities when child succeeds. Not suggesting that failures reflect a lack of ability. Authoritative parenting.

    Students from low socioeconomic backgrounds
    Students from Low Socioeconomic Backgrounds

    • Many children in poverty face problems at home and at school that present barriers to their learning.

    • Many schools of children from impoverished backgrounds attend have fewer resources than do the schools in higher-income neighborhoods.

    • Schools in low-income areas are more likely to encourage rote learning rather than thinking skills.

    • Many of these schools provide students with sub-standard learning environments.

    Ethnicity in schools usa
    Ethnicity in Schools (USA)

    • The school experiences of students from different ethnic groups vary considerably.

    • School segregation is still a factor in the education of children of color in the U.S.

    • John Ogbu proposed the view that ethnic minority students are placed in a position of subordination and exploitation in the American educational system.

    • He believes students of color have inferior educational opportunities, are exposed to educators who have low academic expectations of them, and encounter negative stereotypes.

    Ethnic differences in academic achievement
    Ethnic Differences in Academic Achievement

    • Why do differences exist?

    • Parental attitudes and involvement.

    • Minority parents may value education or encourage school achievement as much as other parents do.

    • However, minority parents are often less knowledgeable about the school system and less involved in many school activities.

    Ethnic differences in academic achievement1
    Ethnic Differences in Academic Achievement

    • Patterns of parenting and peer influences.

    • Positive influence on academic achievement is often undermined by peers.

    • Teacher expectancies:

    • In USA: Asian Americans are expected to be bright and hardworking, whereas African-American and Latino students from low-income neighborhoods are expected to perform poorly in school.

    Teachers are not immune to stereotypes
    Teachers are not immune to stereotypes!

    • Pygmalion effect: Rosenthal and Jacobson (1968)

    Strategies for improving relations between ethnically diverse students
    Strategies for Improving Relations Between Ethnically Diverse Students

    • Encourage students to have positive personal contact with diverse other students.

    • Encourage students to engage in perspective taking.

    • Help students think critically and be emotionally intelligent when cultural issues are involved.

    • Reduce bias.

    • View the school and community as a team to help support teaching efforts.

    Cross cultural comparisons of achievement
    Cross-Cultural Comparisons of Achievement Diverse Students

    • In a cross-national comparison of 9- to 13-year-old students, the U.S. finished 13th out of 15 in science, and 15th out of 16 in math achievement.

    • In this study, Korean and Taiwanese students finished first and second, respectively.

    • Studies have shown Asian students consistently outperform American students.

    Reasons for cross cultural differences
    Reasons for Cross-Cultural Differences Diverse Students

    • Research found Asian teachers spent more of their time teaching math than did American teachers.

    • Asian students were in school an average of 240 days a year, compared with 178 days in the U.S.

    • American parents had much lower expectations for their children’s education than Asian parents.

    • American parents were more likely to believe that their children’s achievement was due to innate ability, and they were less likely to help them with their homework.

    Reading Diverse Students

    • Education and language experts continue to debate how children should be taught to read.

    • The whole-language approach stresses that reading instruction should parallel children’s natural language learning, and that reading materials should be whole and meaningful.

    • The basic-skills-and-phonetics approach emphasizes that reading instruction should teach phonetics and its basic rules for translating written symbols into sounds, and early reading instruction should involve simplified materials.

    Findings on bilingual education
    Findings on Bilingual Education Diverse Students

    • Researchers have found that bilingualism does not interfere with performance in either language.

    • Children who are fluent in two languages perform better on tests of attentional control, concept formation, analytical reasoning, cognitive flexibility, and cognitive complexity.

    • Bilingual children are also more conscious of spoken and written language structure, and are better at noticing errors of grammar and meaning.

    • Bilingual children in a number of countries have been found to perform better on intelligence tests.

    Amount of television watching by children
    Amount of Television Watching by Children Diverse Students

    • Children not only learn in school but also from TV.

    • In the 1990s, children averaged 11-28 hours of television per week, which is more than for any other activity except sleep.

    • Considerably more children in the North-America than their counterparts in other developed countries watch television for long periods.

    • A special concern is the extent to which children are exposed to violence and aggression on television, even in cartoons.

    How do children learn by observation
    How do children learn by observation? Diverse Students

    • Bandura: observational learning and instruction; vicarious reinforcement; vicarious punishment; imitation; selective imitation; counterimitation; abstract modeling.

    Experiment: Diverse Students

    • 1. Children saw in the model-rewarded condition an adult give the aggressive model some candy and a soft drink for a championship performance.

    • 2. Children in the model-punished condition saw a second adult scold and spank the model for beating up on Bobo.

    • 3. Children in the no-consequence condition simply saw the model behave aggressively.

    • Children in the model-rewarded and no-consequence conditions imitated more of the model's aggressive acts than children who saw the model punished. Children have learned novel aggressive responses without being reinforced.

    Effects of television on children s aggression
    Effects of Television on Children’s Aggression Diverse Students

    • Several studies have demonstrated the relationships between the amount of violence viewed on television and subsequent aggressive and violent behavior.

    • These studies are correlational, thus the only conclusion can be that television violence is associated with aggressive behavior, not that it causes aggressive behavior.

    • Many experts argue that TV violence can induce aggressive or antisocial behavior in children.

    Other effects
    Other Effects Diverse Students

    • Reciprocal link: Viewing TV violence increases children's aggressive tendencies, which stimulates interest in violent programming, which promotes further aggression.

    • Mean-world beliefs: Tendency to view the world as a violent place inhabited by people who typically rely on aggressive solutions to their interpersonal problems.

    • Desensitize children to violence: Make them less emotionally upset by violent acts and more willing to tolerate them in real life.

    Effects of television on children s prosocial behavior
    Effects of Television on Children’s Prosocial Behavior Diverse Students

    • Television can teach children that it is better to behave in positive, prosocial ways than in negative, antisocial ways.

    • Children who watched episodes of “Sesame Street” that reflected positive social interchanges copied the behaviors and, in later social situations, applied the prosocial lessons they had learned.

    Television and cognitive development
    Television and Cognitive Development Diverse Students

    • Positive influences: presenting motivating educational programs, increasing information about the world beyond children’s immediate environment, and providing models of prosocial behavior.

    • Regular television is negatively related to children’s creativity, however, educational programming may promote creativity and imagination due to its slower pace and coordination of video and audio input.

    Children s reactions to commercial messages
    Children's Reactions to Commercial Messages Diverse Students

    • Young children do rarely understand manipulative (selling) intent of ads.

    • By ages 9-11, most children realize that ads are designed to persuade and sell, and by 13-14, they have acquired a healthy skepticism about product claims and advertising in general.

    • Nevertheless, adolescents and adults are often persuaded by the ads they see.

    Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
    Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Diverse Students

    • ADHD is a disability in which children consistently show one or more of the following characteristics over a period of time:

      • inattention

      • Impulsivity

      • hyperactivity

    • The disorder occurs as much as 4-9 times as much in boys as in girls.

    • Students with ADHD have a failure rate in school that is 2-3 times that of other students.

    Causes of adhd
    Causes of ADHD Diverse Students

    • Definitive causes of ADHD have not been found.

    • Pre- and postnatal abnormalities may be a cause.

    • Possible low levels of certain neurotransmitters have been proposed.

    • Heredity is considered a contributor, as 30-50% of children with the disorder have a sibling or parent who has it.

    • Environmental toxins such as lead could contribute to ADHD.

    • Family factors?

    Treatment of adhd
    Treatment of ADHD Diverse Students

    • Many experts recommend a combination of academic, behavioral, and medical interventions to help ADHD students better learn and adapt.

    • The intervention requires cooperation and effort on the part of the parents, school personnel, and health-care professionals.

    • Ritalin is a controversial stimulant given to control behavior.

    • In many children, Ritalin actually slows down the nervous system and behavior.