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272 PART 3 COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT

metacognitive knowledge and cognitive strategies improve throughout the school years . For instance, children become more proficient in such learning strategies as rehearsal, organisation and elaboration, and they acquire increasingly powerful and effective ways of solving problems . With age, they become more aware of the nature of thinking, learning and knowledge, and they develop strategies for regulating their own learning .

Adding a sociocultural element to information processing theory Information processing theory can tell us a great deal about how abilities change over time, and sociocultural views can also help us explain how those changes occur . Combining elements of both perspectives can give us a more complete picture of cognitive development than we might get from either one alone . For example, children learn what to pay attention to in part by watching what other people pay attention to . Adults can help children become more effective, self-regulating learners by giving them control of a learning activity in a gradual, step-by-step manner .

Children’s construction of theories Some theorists propose that children gradually construct integrated belief systems (theories) about the physical world, the biological world, the social world and mental events . However, such theories are not always accurate . For instance, children’s theories about the physical world may include erroneous beliefs about the solar system and laws of motion . To the extent that children’s theories include misconceptions, they may interfere with their ability to acquire more-sophisticated understandings .

Comparing and critiquing contemporary approaches to cognitive development Contemporary theories (e .g . information processing theory in its many forms, theory theory) have added considerably to Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s early notions of children’s thinking and knowledge-building processes . Taken together, various theoretical perspectives give us a more complete picture of cognitive development but we need to develop unified and testable theories to make progress .

Individual differences in information processing The information-processing capabilities of some children (e .g . those with learning disabilities and those with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) are different enough to require the use of specially adapted instructional practices and materials . Although children with such disabilities have diverse abilities and needs, all of them benefit from explicit instruction in effective cognitive strategies along with teacher scaffolding for completing learning tasks . You will remember that Sam needed specific instruction in how to add to 10, and once this aspect of processing had become automatic, he was able to devote attention to other ways of interpreting and solving novel problems .

You will recall meeting Sam in the case study at the beginning of the chapter . Sam was in Year 4 but had made almost no progress at all in basic arithmetic . He had been unable, using the methods his class teacher normally employed, to learn to do even very simple addition and subtraction sums .

Using the material in the chapter and the information provided in the case study, try to answer the following questions .

1. What does the researcher hypothesise is Sam’s underlying problem with cognitive processing?

2. The researcher gets Sam to practise tasks such as ‘Ten Facts’ and to play Ten Snap . What is the aim of practising these tasks?

3. As Sam reduces the time taken to recall ‘Ten Facts’, what difference does he report in his assessment of how hard/easy the task is?

4. Short-term memory gradually increases during childhood . At what age do you expect Sam to reach his maximum short-term memory capacity?

5. The researcher has not changed Sam’s underlying mental capacity so much as helped him to work with it . All of us have limited short-term memory capacity . Can you recall any case where you have been aware of this? Can you think of any case where, like Sam, you have practised a cognitive task until it became automatic?

CASE STUDY Questions

Copyright © Pearson Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd) 2020 — 9781488615689 — McDevitt/Child Development & Education 2e

McDevitt, Teresa, et al. Child Development and Education, Pearson Education Australia, 2019. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/avondale/detail.action?docID=5909515. Created from avondale on 2021-08-30 21:40:12.

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