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Adolescence: Cognitive Development

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1 Adolescence: Cognitive Development
The Developing Person Through Childhood and Adolescence by Kathleen Stassen Berger Seventh Edition Chapter 15 Adolescence: Cognitive Development Slides prepared by Kate Byerwalter, Ph.D., Grand Rapids Community College

2 Make it Real: Adolescent Thought
Think of an argument you had as a teenager, or a time when you heard a teenager argue. Contrast the argument styles of 2 teenagers versus 2 adults. (e.g., about politics).

3 Adolescent Thought Adolescents often combine ego, logic, and emotion in their thinking, in ways that differ from adults. These processes involve egocentrism, formal operational, and postformal thought.

4 Adolescent Egocentrism
A tendency to focus on oneself: Personal Fable (“I’m so unique.”) Invincibility Fable (“Nothing bad can happen.”) Imaginary audience (“Everyone is watching.”)

5 Make it Real: Adolescent Egocentrism
Think of real life examples of the invincibility fable, personal fable, and imaginary audience. SYBIL SHACKMAN / MONKMEYER

6 Middle School: A Low Point
The first year of middle school (starting in grade 5, 6, or 7) is often a “low ebb” of learning. Students are dealing with a variety of issues (see next slide).

7 Issues in Middle School
Some issues kids must deal with during middle school: Puberty Relational bullying Greater competition─extracurricular activities Short class periods that prevent in-depth discussion

8 Designing a School Some ideas to help middle schoolers:
Longer class periods Teachers rotate classes (vs. students) Use of “pods”–small groups of students

9 Compared to Young Kids, Adolescents:
are better arguers have a larger knowledge base use better memory strategies are faster thinkers PHOTODISC

10 Piaget’s Highest Stage
Adolescents are in Piaget’s 4th stage, formal operational thought, characterized by: logical thought hypothetical thought abstract thought deductive reasoning

11 Deductive Reasoning This begins with an idea or premise and then uses logic to draw specific conclusions (“top-down” thinking). Example: If something is a duck, it will waddle and quack.

12 Inductive Reasoning Reasoning from one or more specific experiences to a general conclusion (“bottom-up” thinking). Example: This is a duck. It waddles and quacks. This other creature does too–so it must also be a duck!

13 Formal Operational Tasks
The Balance Scale Problem Mixing Chemicals

14 Formal Operational Thought
Adolescents can think about possibilities and about the future. They often question adult values, practices. They love to think and discuss life, and are often idealists.

15 Two Types of Thought Analytic (formal operational)
Intuitive: thoughts spring from feelings, memories Is QUICK, POWERFUL, but may be illogical! Example: assume an athlete must be popular

16 Cognitive Economy Adolescents learn to use the most efficient and effective type of thought, depending on the situation. Example: They use analytic in science class, but intuitive for personal issues.

17 Learning in High School
High schools emphasize the use of formal operational thought (vs. intuitive). Teachers are specialists in their field. The curriculum is rigorous, with math and science emphasized most.

18 High-Stakes Testing These tests determine whether a student is promoted in school. They are not without controversy: Are there higher drop out rates as a result? Do they increase ethnic, economic, and sexual inequality? Do they decrease student motivation?

19 Student Motivation Many adolescents express boredom and unhappiness with school. 38% of high school teachers say “student apathy” is their most serious problem. Teens emphasis on “fitting in” with peers may discourage them from learning.

20 Make it Real: Student Motivation
What kinds of activities might help increase student motivation? JACQUES PAVLOVSKY / SYGMA / CORBIS

21 Increasing Student Motivation
Studies suggest that engaging students via extracurricular activities creates connectedness, and contributes to student learning. Unfortunately, many schools are too large to meet the needs of many students.

22 Violence in Schools Although schools are relatively safe, students report feeling unsafe. This fear is strongest among African American and Hispanic youth. Primary prevention of school violence is needed.


24 Postformal Thought Researchers have proposed a “fifth stage” of thinking: postformal thought. This combines both intuitive and analytic thought, resulting in more balanced thought. It develops during early adulthood.

25 Cognitive Flexibility
Postformal thought recognizes that there are often multiple perspectives. It involves cognitive flexibility, the ability to show or hide emotion as appropriate to the situation. Example: Not crying in front of your boss.

26 Learning in College College is worth it! Benefits: Income
Deeper, more flexible thought Knowledge of specific subject areas Reasoning ability Reflectiveness


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