The development of cognitive skills and role-taking
Swinson, Mildrid E.
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The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between the development of cognitive functions and role-taking behavior in children. The study focused on the relation between achievement of concrete operations according to Piaget's theory (as an index of cognitive function) and achievement of the ability to be aware of the point of view of another. Cognitive development was measured by a series of concrete operations. The tasks used involve the formation of classes, serialization of asymetrical relations and conservation of quantity. The development of the ability to see the point of view of another was hypothesized to be dependent upon the acquisition of concrete operations. It was suggested that achievement in one area would be paralleled by achievement in the other. That is , with the development of the mental structures called concrete operations the child is able to perform with certain modes of thought in the social world as well as in the physical world. The role-taking task developed by Feffer was used in this study as a measure of ability to shift perspective--that is, to see another's point of view. This task consists of telling a story including three actors and then retelling the story from the point of view of each of the other actors. Relationships between the three concrete operations tasks, and variations in subtasks within each were explored. Piaget has stated that proficiency in the several concrete operations tasks used in this study develops simultaneously. The following predictions were made: 1. There will be a positive correlation between the total concrete operations score and the role-taking task. 2. The relationship in A1 will hold with the effects of age, grade, and conventional I. Q. partialled out. 3. There will be a positive correlation between the three concrete operations tasks individually with the roletaking task. 4. The relationship in A3 will hold with the effects of age, grade and conventional I.Q. partialled out. Ninety children from kindergarten, first and second grade were used in the study of concrete operations. Sixty of these were also used for the examination of the relationship between concrete operations and the role-taking task. The relationships between concrete operations and age, I.Q. and grade were explored, as well as the relationship of performance on the role-taking task with age, I.Q. and grade. Data for the performance of subjects on all the tasks was correlated to see if inferences could be drawn for the sequence of emergence of particular concrete operations. The hypothesis of correlation between concrete operations task and the role-taking task was confirmed with and without the effects of age, conventional I.Q. and grade partialled out. Predictions positing the relationship between the three concrete operations tasks were partially confirmed, suggesting a sequence in development of concrete operations rather than parallel development.
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