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The Developing Person Through Childhood and Adolescence by Kathleen Stassen Berger. Seventh Edition. Chapter 12. The School Years: Cognitive Development. Slides prepared by Kate Byerwalter, Ph.D., Grand Rapids Community College . A Prime Time for Learning.

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The school years cognitive development

The Developing Person Through Childhood and Adolescence

by Kathleen Stassen Berger

Seventh Edition

Chapter 12

The School Years: Cognitive Development

Slides prepared by Kate Byerwalter, Ph.D., Grand Rapids Community College

A prime time for learning
A Prime Time for Learning

  • Children in the school years are inquisitive and eager to learn new skills.


Piaget s third stage
Piaget’s Third Stage

Concrete operational thought is the ability to reason logically about direct experiences and perceptions.

Children in this stage become more systematic, objective, and scientific thinkers–but only about tangible, visible things.

Logical principles
Logical Principles

  • Classification: organization into groups according to common property

    • Example: Show 5 collies and 2 poodles. Ask, “Are there more collies or dogs?”

    • Kids in middle childhood know that collies are a subcategory of “dogs.”

Essence and change
Essence and Change

  • Identity: certain characteristics of an object remain the same even if other characteristics change

  • Examples: frozen water is still water; a butterfly was once a caterpillar; liquid in smaller glass is the same liquid

Essence and change cont
Essence and Change (cont.)

  • Reversibility: reversing the process by which something was changed brings the original conditions

  • Example: if 5 + 9 = 14, then

    14 – 9 must equal 5! Also, imagine pouring H2O back in conservation task.

Essence and change cont1
Essence and Change (cont.)

  • Reciprocity is the principle that things may change in opposite ways, and thus balance each other out.

  • Example: A child states that the decreased height in the shorter is balanced out by its increased width.

Practical applications
Practical Applications

  • The logical principles of concrete operational thought make learning easier and more fun.

  • Example: Children enjoy classifying cities, states, nations, etc., or knowing that a tadpole turns into a frog (identity).

Logic and culture
Logic and Culture

  • Lev Vygotsky believed that culture shapes cognition more than Piaget believed.

Logic and culture an example
Logic and Culture: An Example

  • Brazilian street children calculate complex computations not learned in school (see text p. 361)


Moral development
Moral Development

  • Develops along with cognitiveadvances

  • Is shapedbyculture and social influences

  • Middlechildhoodis a key time for learning moral lessons

Kohlberg s stages of moral development

Kohlberg presented moraldilemmas and scored responses as:

Preconventional: rewardsand punishment

Conventional: emphasis on socialrules

Postconventional: moralprinciples “beyond” societalstandards

Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development

Evaluating kohlberg s theory
Evaluating Kohlberg’s Theory

  • Moral reasoning does seem to advance with advances in cognitive development.

  • Most children are preconventional before age 8, and conventional by age 9 years.

Criticisms of kohlberg
Criticisms of Kohlberg

  • He may have underestimated the potential of school-age children.

  • His research was done on Western males.

  • It may be better to address practical issues such as feeding the poor (vs. hypothetical dilemmas).

Morality and gender
Morality and Gender

  • Carol Gilligan believed that females are more likely to develop a morality of care, in which nurturance and compassion are more important than a morality of justice, which emphasizes absolute judgments of right and wrong.

Was gilligan right
Was Gilligan right?

  • Research has found NO clear gender distinction regarding morality of care or justice (boys and girls are equally likely to use each).


Information processing
Information Processing

  • Analyzes how the mind analyzes, stores, and retrieves information.

  • Cognition becomes moreefficient in middle childhood.


The three parts of memory

Sensory register: registers incoming stimuli for a split second

Working memory (short term): where current, conscious mental activity occurs

Long-term memory = stores information for minutes, hours, days, months, years

Unlimited capacity (!)

The Three “Parts” of Memory

Speed of processing
Speed of Processing

  • Speed of processing increases during middle childhood.

  • This allows a child to process more thoughts quickly, retain more thoughts in memory, and simultaneously process two different thoughts.


  • Certain skills become automatic during middle childhood (e.g., reading, writing).

  • This increases intellectual capacity and speed of processing.

Make it real learning a subject
Make it Real: Learning a Subject

  • Do you find it easier to learn new material in your major field of interest than in a brand new subject?

  • Why do think that is?

Knowledge base
Knowledge Base

  • Knowledge base: a body of knowledge in an area that makes it easier to master new learning

  • Interest, motivation, and practice determine the size of the knowledge base.

    • Example: child chess experts, Pokémon experts

Control processes
Control Processes

  • Control processes regulate the analysis of information within the information processing system, and increase during middle childhood.

  • Examples: selective attention, retrieval strategies, metacognition

Improvements in control processes

Selective attention: the ability to screen out irrelevant distractions and concentrate on a task

Metacognition: the ability to evaluate a task and determine how to accomplish it

Improvements in Control Processes

Language new vocabulary
Language: New Vocabulary

  • School-age kids learn up to 20 new words a day.

  • They understand metaphors and various uses of words.

    • Examples: egg, “walking on eggshells,” “last one is a rotten egg,” egg salad, etc.

Two codes of language
Two “Codes” of Language

  • Formal Code: used in school and other “formal” situations

    • Extensive vocabulary

    • Complex syntax

    • Lengthy sentences

Two codes of language cont
Two “Codes” of Language (cont.)

  • Informal code: language used with friends

    • Fewer words, simpler syntax

    • Gestures and intonation convey meaning

    • Vital for social acceptance

Code switching a life saver
Code Switching: A Life Saver

  • Kids in middle childhood learn that certain words and phrases are okay with friends (informal code), but NOT with teachers, pastors, or other adults.

  • Failure to learn this could result in punishment for calling the teacher “dude”!

Socioeconomics and language
Socioeconomics and Language

  • Lower-income children tend to have smaller vocabularies, simpler grammar, and more difficulty in reading.

  • Two key explanations for this:

    • Exposure to language

    • Parental expectations towards education

A hopeful study
A Hopeful Study

  • A study of low-income children demonstrated that exposure to language was a key predictor of language development.

  • Real world application: TALK with kids!

Tones and tricks
Tones and Tricks

  • By 10 years of age, children learn to understand the nuances of language (tone, sarcasm, puns).

  • Example: 10 year olds recognized that saying “I lost my stickers” in a happy voice is strange.

Make it real education
Make it Real: Education

  • If you could design the ideal educational environment, what would it look like? Be specific. Think about class size, curriculum, sports, scheduling, etc.

Teaching and learning
Teaching and Learning

The curriculum for school-age children varies. Some possibilities include: reading, writing, math, arts, physical education, oral expression, religion.

Funding for education also varies greatly.

The hidden curriculum
The Hidden Curriculum

  • The hidden curriculum is the unofficial, unstated rules that influence learning.

  • Examples: discipline strategies, teacher salaries, class size, testing, schedules, emphasis on sports, segregation by ethnicity, physical condition of the school

International tests
International Tests

  • International comparisons of achievement have found that the United States is not among the top scoring developed nations.

Education in japan
Education in Japan

  • Harold Stevenson (U of M) documented key aspects that help Japanese students:

    • Strong parental involvement

    • Teachers paid well, given time to prepare

    • Longer school days

    • Effort is highly valued

Education in japan1
Education in Japan

  • Unfortunately, the strong emphasis on education has caused a phobia of school for too many Japanese children.

  • The government is now working towards a more “relaxed education.”

Make it real the no child left behind act
Make it Real: The No Child Left Behind Act

  • This Act requires yearly testing and a certain level of achievement in order for schools to receive federal funding.

  • Were you affected by this Act? Do you think it is a good idea? Why or why not?

The no child left behind act
The No Child Left Behind Act

  • The Act is controversial. Some questions include:

    • What about the arts and physical education?

    • Does it punish schools that need funding the most?

    • Should graduation (or not) depend on a test?

    • What about special needs students?

The reading wars
The Reading Wars

  • Phonics approach: teaching reading by first teaching the sounds of each letter

  • Whole-language: teaching reading by early use of all language skills–talking, listening, reading, and writing

  • BOTH approaches are valuable

Quiz which approach is this
Quiz: Which approach is this?

The math wars
The Math Wars

  • Math is an often feared subject, but one of utmost importance.

  • New curriculum discourages rote learning, emphasizing problem solving, and understanding of concepts.

  • The focus is on the thought process, not just the final answer.

Class size
Class Size

  • Research on the relationship between class size and academic achievement has yielded mixed results.

  • Confoundingfactors include the types of students in the study, the qualifications of teachers, and suitable classrooms.

Bilingual education
Bilingual Education

  • About 4 million U.S. children are English-language learners (ELL).


Bilingual education cont
Bilingual Education (cont.)

  • Middle childhood is an ideal time to teach a second language.

  • However, there is considerable debate about when and how to teach a second language.

Types of 2 nd language programs
Types of 2nd Language Programs

  • Total immersion: all instruction in second language

  • Reverse immersion: instruction of basic subjects in first language, then second language is taught

  • Bilingual education: instruction in both languages

Types of 2 nd language programs cont
Types of 2nd Language Programs (cont.)

  • Heritage language classes: after school classes to connect with native culture

  • English as a second language (ESL): exclusive English for a few months, in preparation for “regular” classes

Which type is best
Which type is best?

  • Research in Canada found the total immersion approach to be very successful.

  • However, there is no one right answer. The goal is to help immigrant children preserve their culture, while learning the new language.