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Early Childhood Thought: Islands of Competence

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Presentation on theme: "Early Childhood Thought: Islands of Competence"— Presentation transcript:

1 Early Childhood Thought: Islands of Competence
The Development of Children (5th ed.) Cole, Cole & Lightfoot Chapter 9

2 Early Childhood (age 2-6)
Typical pattern of thinking in preschool years Mixture of sound logic and magical thinking Insight and ignorance The reasoned and the unreasonable A patchwork of competence and incompetence

3 Early Childhood (age 2-6)
Crucial questions Are young children simply inconsistent? Or do their thought processes vary from one task to the next because they are more familiar with some than others? Or might it be that their abilities vary because the parts of their brain that govern these abilities mature at different rates?

4 Overview of the Journey
Bio-Behavioral Foundations Focusing on General Processes of Cognitive Change Focusing on Domain-Specific Approaches to Cognitive Change Development of Drawing: A Case in Point

5 Bio-Behavioral Foundations
Physiological Growth Brain Maturation

6 Physiological Growth After third birthday, rate of growth slows to about 2½ to 3 inches per year Walking is distinctly adult like with their hands at their sides Improvement in fine motor skills More agile in controlling their eating utensils Can unbutton (but not button) their jacket Better control of crayons Can pour water more or less reliably

7 Brain Maturation Age 2  50% adult weight; Age 6  90% weight
Results from increasing myelination (low level in hippocampus may account for short-term working memory deficiencies, in frontal cortex may explain failures to consider someone else’s point of view) Rapid increase in frequency & size of brain waves when children are engaged in cognitive tasks

8 Focusing on General Processes of Cognitive Change
Piaget’s Account of Early Childhood Thinking The Problem of Uneven Levels of Performance Information-Processing Approaches

9 Piaget’s Stages of Thinking
Infancy (Birth-2): Sensorimotor Thinking based on overtly physical acts Early childhood (2-6): Preoperational Overcoming limitations to logical thinking Due to one-sidedness (i.e., the inability to keep two aspects of a problem in mind), as seen in the beaker and wooden beads experiments Middle childhood (6-12): Concrete Operational Manipulation of symbols and internalized mental operations that combine, separate, and transform information logically Adolescence (12-19): Formal Operational Thinking systematically about all logical relations within a problem; keen interest in abstract ideas and thinking itself

10 Preoperational Limitations
Egocentrism Confusion of appearance and reality Precausal reasoning

11 Limitation 1: Egocentrism
Tendency to consider the world entirely in terms of one’s own point of view Preschoolers cannot “decenter” (i.e., see things from another’s perspective) Illustrated in Lack of spatial perspective taking… Egocentric speech… Failure to understand other minds…

12 Lack of Spatial Perspective Taking
Allowed to view diorama (3 mountain experiment) from all sides Seated on one side; doll on opposite side Shown pictures from various perspectives and asked to identify how things would look to doll Almost always chose view corresponding to their own point of view

13 Egocentric Speech Tendency to engage in “collective monologues”
Speaker gave too little information (e.g., “Take this one”) Listener asked too few questions

14 Failure to Understand Other Minds
Inability to engage in mental perspective taking (i.e., think about other people’s mental states – “theory of mind”) Think others will not have a false belief because they no longer do Discover that a box with the picture of candy on the outside has only a pencil inside Believe that a friend who has not yet seen what is in closed box will think that it has a pencil Form of moral reasoning that does not take intentions into account

15 Limitation 2: Confusing Appearance and Reality
Tendency to focus exclusively on the most striking aspects of an object (i.e., surface appearance) Believe the stick has actually changed Become frightened when someone puts on a mask Believe that a cat with a dog mask actually turns into a dog…

16 Limitation 2: Confusing Appearance and Reality

17 Limitation 3: Precausal Reasoning
Instead of reasoning from general premises to particular cases (deduction) or from specific cases to a more general premise (induction), preschoolers tend to think transductively (i.e., from one particular to another) “I haven’t had a nap, so it isn’t afternoon.” Since graveyards are places where dead people are found, graveyards must be the cause of death

18 Problem of Uneven Performance
Under some circumstances, children show signs of having certain cognitive abilities earlier than Piaget suggested Horizontal décalage: Variations in performance from one version of a problem to another…

19 Problem of Uneven Performance
Example: Understanding Other Minds When child’s role changed in false-belief task from that of the deceived to that of the deceiver, even 3-year-olds exhibit some understanding of other people’s thought processes

20 Problem of Uneven Performance
Example: Spatial Perspectives Can take another’s spatial perspective when task involves familiar, easily differentiated objects (e.g., farm, Grover)

21 Problem of Uneven Performance
Example: Distinguishing Appearance/Reality When the child is enlisted in trying to fool another adult with a fake object (e.g., a “sponge rock”), 3-year-old child could answer correctly what the object really is, what it looks like, and what the absent adult will think it is Thus children seem to have a conceptual grasp of the difference between reality and appearance, but to be able to use it, they must be primed by making the knowledge part of an ongoing activity that the child understands

22 Problem of Uneven Performance
Example: Causal Reasoning How a bicycle works 9-year-old (developmentally delayed) 8-year-old (typically developed) 5-year-old (typically developed)

23 Problem of Uneven Performance
Example: Causal Reasoning 3-year-olds usually said the first ball caused Snoopy to jump up, but 5-year-olds could give at least a partial explanation that cause must precede effect

24 Neo-Piagetian Theories
Retain the idea that acquisition of knowledge passes through stages, but believe that it occurs at different rates in different domains The information processing account is one of these alternative explanations…

25 Information-Processing Account
Computer analogy Hardware (e.g., myelination of a particular brain region), Software (e.g., acquisition of a new strategy for remembering)

26 Information-Processing Account
Children display greater competence when they have deep experience in a given domain Results in a rich knowledge base, which leads in turn to easier recall and more powerful ability to reason Yields “islands of expertise”

27 Siegler’s “Overlapping Wave” Model of Developmental Change
Siegler’s model shows changes as slow and even, depending upon the strategies used by the child Stage models, in contrast, see development as divided into discontinuous stages

28 Focusing on Domain-Specific Approaches to Cognitive Change
Privileged Domains Explaining Domain-Specific Development

29 Privileged Domain: Physics
“Even quite young children know that larger objects are composed of smaller pieces and these pieces, even if invisible, have enduring physical existence and properties.” (Wellman & Gelman, 1998) Between the ages of 2 and 6, children display increasing understanding of inertia and gravity Kim & Spelke, 1999

30 Privileged Domain: Psychology
Developing Theory of Mind Age Evidence End of first year Children possess at least an intuitive understanding that other people’s actions are caused by their goals and intentions. 18–24 months Children engage in pretend play, indicating onset of symbolic capacity needed to understand mental states of others. 3 years Children generally distinguish mental and physical states, perceptions and desires. 4–5 years Children are able to think about the relation between their own beliefs and those of others.

31 Privileged Domain: Biology
Findings: 3- to 4-year-olds can make correct generalizations concerning animate and inanimate things Can make the distinction between self-initiated and externally initiated movements A know that living objects grow and change their appearance in contrast to artifacts, which may be scuffed up or broken but do not grow

32 Explanation: Biological Account
Option 1: Mental modules (modularity theory) Cognitive processes consist of separate biological subsystems, hardwired at birth and that do not need special tutoring in order to develop Prodigies: Islands of brilliance in an overall normal level of development (e.g., Mozart) Option 2: Skeletal principles Provide domain-specific support for development Get a cognitive process started and provide some initial direction, but subsequent experience is needed to realize the potential

33 Explanation: Cultural-Context Account
Developmental niches: Contexts in which society makes available essential cultural resources for development (e.g., language) Scripts: Event schemas (e.g., taking a bath, going to a restaurant ) that function as guides to action and specify: Who participates in an event What social roles they play What objects they are to use during the event The sequence of actions that make up an event Serve to coordinate actions with others and abstract concepts that apply to many kinds of events

34 Explanation: Cultural-Context Account
Culture influences developmental unevenness Arranging occurrence and frequency of activities Relating various activities in patterns Regulating child’s role in the activity Guided participation  zone of proximal development (Vygotsky) Example: Sociodramatic play (pretend play in which 2+ participants enact a variety of social roles)

35 Development of Drawing
Stages of Drawing Information-Processing Account Drawing as a Mental Module Cultural-Context Account

36 Stages of Drawing: Human Figure
Tadpole figures Figures with separate body

37 Stages of Drawing Early childhood: Draw what they know about an object rather than what they see 6-year-old’s drawing of a cup: Handle is included although the child was shown the cup without the handle being visible Between ages 6-12 they draw what they actually see and with perspective

38 Lines of different colors
Carrie: Age 2½ Lines of different colors

39 Global representations of a person
Carrie: Age 3½ Global representations of a person

40 Set main figures in a scene
Carrie: Age 5 Set main figures in a scene

41 Motion, rhythm, and greater realism
Carrie: Age 7½ Motion, rhythm, and greater realism

42 Cartoon of a realistic scene
Carrie: Age 12 Cartoon of a realistic scene

43 Information-Processing Account
Increasing sophistication of children’s drawings arises from a combination of Improved motor skills Increased knowledge of rules and conventions of drawing Increased ability to keep in mind several aspects of task

44 Drawing as a Mental Module
Cases of children whose language ability/general mental functioning are quite low, but whose ability to create graphic images is exceptionally high Nadia, an autistic preschooler with only minimal exposure to models, displays an uncanny ability to capture form and movement in her drawings

45 Cultural-Context Account
Adult interactions facilitate drawing development (i.e., scripted statements and guided participation) “What are you drawing?” “Tell me about your picture.” Affirmation that they can see an object in the drawing that the child has mentioned The ways in which adults organize instruction provide essential opportunities for modular potential to be triggered and stages constructed

46 Applying the Theories…
Using different theories of learning how to draw as a foundation, how would you design an instructional program to teach drawing?

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