Child Development 170: Contextual Influences on Cognitive Development

Reading list

Topic 1. Animals' thinking: What is intellect and it's evidence?

______Köhler, W. (1927). Mentality of apes. New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace. (Ch1. 2.) (option I) due 01/29 (W).

Eugene's questions:

  1. How did Köhler define intelligent behavior? How did he measure it? How did he organized his observations of intelligent behavior in apes? What was the nature of his experiments?
  2. What was the history of apes with which Köhler worked? What was their ecological background? Why did Köhler provide these descriptions in some details?
  3. Why can not any successful behavior that overcomes obstacles automatically be considered as intelligent, according to Köhler? Give examples of unintelligent behavior. Is there sharp boundary between intelligent and non-intelligent behaviors, according to Köhler?
  4. How did Köhler prove that intelligent behavior does not fully guided by environment? What was his evidence?
  5. Why does usage of implements is so important for considering intelligent behavior?
  6. How do you think Köhler's apes were different and similar to modern humans and apes in the wild regarding intelligent behavior?

______De Waal, F. (1996). Good natured: The origins of right and wrong in humans and other animals. London: Harvard University Press. Prologue, Ch.2. (option II) due 01/29 (W).

Eugene's questions:

  1. How did De Waal define intelligent behavior? What evidence did he provide for intelligent behavior? What are the differences between intelligent and non-intelligent behavior? Why does deception is a good evidence of intellect? Is there sharp boundary between intelligent and non-intelligent behaviors, according to De Waal?
  2. What was the history of animals with which De Waal observed or reported? What was their ecological background? Have you noticed De Waal's comments about different animals' behavior in different ecological conditions (e.g., if the animals lived together longer with each other)? Who does ecology shapes animals' behavior?
  3. Why did De Waal argue that actions are better manifestation of cognition, emotions, and sympathy rather than verbal account? Give examples.
  4. What is cognitive empathy and role-taking? What is the evidence of cognitive empathy and role-taking among animals? What are alternative explanations? Give examples. What is the difference between De Waal's terms "learning" and "understanding"? How to distinguish one from the other in an observation?
  5. Why do you think De Waal chose to discuss cognition of animals using sympathy and empathy as his focus?
  6. What were De Waal' arguments that animals' behavior does not fully guided by environment? What was his evidence?
  7. How do you think the apes De Waal discussed were different and similar to modern humans and apes in the wild regarding intelligent behavior?

Topic 2. Conceptual perspectives on cognitive development: Piaget's stage theory (overview)

______Cole & Cole (1993). The development of children. New York: Scientific American Books. (pp.160-168; 186-195; 216-222; 317-336). (option I) due 02/05 (W).

Eugene's questions:

  1. What are the assimilation, accommodation, and equilibrium aspects of adaptations, according to Piaget? Give examples. How are these concepts important for analysis of cognitive development?
  2. Describe the differences among four major stages of child development and give examples.
  3. What is the relationship between child development and the social environment according to Piaget?
  4. What are contributions of the cultural-context perspectives on early child development? Give examples.
  5. What is object permanence? Give examples. Does the current research support Piaget's theory regarding early childhood development? How do problem solving and play changes in early childhood?
  6. What is the difference between preoprational and concrete operational children? What is egocentrism? Give examples. Does the current research support Piaget's theory regarding young children development?
  7. Does Piaget's theory take into account context? Elaborate your answer with examples?

______Cole & Cole (1993). The development of children. New York: Scientific American Books. (pp. 438-465; 608-632). (option I) due 02/05 (W).

Eugene's questions:

  1. How can be development described in terms of person's access to family and community settings? Does cross-cultural research support this description? What is biological foundation of cognitive development?
  2. What the changes does memory undergo in cognitive development? What is metamemory?
  3. What are concrete operations, conservation, social perspective taking? Give examples. What are other many developmental stages, according to Piaget?
  4. What are the cultural variations in cognitive development on Piagetian tasks? What has post-Piaget research contributed to the picture on cognitive development? What is the role of schooling in promoting Piagetian tasks?
  5. What are distinguished features of adolescent thinking? What is Piaget's notion of formal operations? Give examples.
  6. What are gender and cultural differences have been found regarding formal operations? Give examples. Do all adults demonstrate formal operation thinking?
  7. What is role of formal operations in everyday thinking? How does schooling contribute in developing formal operations? What are formal operations in non-literate cultures?
  8. What are Kohlberg's moral stage and how do they relate to Piaget's theory? Give examples. What is critique of Kohlberg's theory of moral reasoning development? Give examples.

Topic 3. Conceptual perspectives on cognitive development: Vygotsky's sociohistorical theory (overview)

______Vygotsky, L. (1987). Mind in society. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Ch. 6. (option I) due 02/12 (W).

Eugene's questions:

  1. What is Vygotsky's stand on the relationship between learning and development?
  2. Why did Vygotsky reject the theories that argue that a) learning follows development, b) learning is development, and c) combination of the two?
  3. What did you learn about generality and specificity of learning?
  4. What were Vygotsky's reasons to introduce the ZPD?
  5. What was Vygotsky's claim about the difference between apes and humans? What is the relationship between the ZPD and imitation?
  6. How does Vygotsky's notion of the ZPD helps to organize learning for mentally retarded children?

______Tharp, R.G. & Gallimore R. (1988). Rousing minds to life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ch. 2-3: (option II) due 02/12 (W).

Eugene's questions:

  1. Why is studying informal learning important for formal education? What is responsive assistance?
  2. What is the ZPD according to Vygotsky and according to Tharp & Gallimore?
  3. What are assisted performance are structuring situations? Give an example.
  4. How is "assistance provided by more capable others" differ from "assistance provided by the self"?
  5. What is automatized, "fossilized" performance?
  6. Why is there lack assisted performance at schools?

Topic 4. Cultural diversity and universality in cognition: Reasoning

______Luria, A. (1976). Cognitive development: its cultural and social foundations. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Chapters 1 (pp. 3-19) and 5 (pp. 117-134). (option I) due 02/19 (W).

Eugene's questions:

  1. Why do you think Luria went to remote villages to study people from traditional cultures? What was his agenda?
  2. What did Luria call reasoning? Do you agree with his definition? Would people from traditional cultures agree with him?
  3. How did Luria describe the observed patterns of thinking in literate and illiterate participants? What were his implications for the relationship between thinking of children and illiterate people from traditional cultures?
  4. What is "advanced" in thinking of adults from Western cultures according to Luria?
  5. How could formal reasoning be used in traditional illiterate cultures?
  6. How do schooling and literacy relate to mastery of solving syllogisms according to Luria?

______Scribner, S. (1977). Modes of thinking and ways of speaking: Culture and logic reconsidered. In P. N. Johnson-Laird & P. C. Wason (Eds.), Thinking. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. (option I) due 02/19 (W).

Eugene's questions:

  1. What evidence did Scribner cite to demonstrate that people from traditional cultures use formal reasoning similar to syllogisms?
  2. How did Scribner explain differences in reasoning between people from traditional and Western cultures? What makes these differences?
  3. What did Scribner see as similar and different between people from traditional and Western cultures?
  4. What are "theoretical" and "empirical" types of reasoning?
  5. How do schooling and literacy relate to mastery of solving syllogisms according to Scribner?

 

______Latour, B. (1987). Science in action: How to follow scientists and engineers through society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Chapter 5 (pp. 179-213). (option II) due 02/19 (W)

Eugene's questions:

  1. How does Latour explain illogical thinking in different cultures? Do you agree with him?
  2. Try to construct your own example from our culture that can be seen as illogical from another culture.
  3. What does Latour seem to recommend to do if one is faced with illogical behavior of people in another culture?
  4. Do you think that Latour implies that illogical thinking and behavior does not exist? How does Latour explain the Western idea of "illogical" thinking? Do you agree with him?
  5. Why do many people from traditional cultures fail to solve syllogisms according to Latour? Do you agree with him?
  6. How do schooling and literacy relate to mastery of solving syllogisms according to Latour?

Topic 5. Schooled and everyday cognition

______Lave, J. (1992). Word problems: A microcosm of theories of learning. In P. Light & G. Butterworth (Eds.), Context and cognition: Ways of learning and knowing (pp. 74-92). New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf.. (option I) due 02/26 (W).

Eugene's questions:

  1. What is the difference between everyday math and traditional school math?
  2. What is the difference between a whole-person dilemma and a performance-display hypothetical puzzle?
  3. Why does traditional school push for a performance-display hypothetical puzzle?
  4. What is a whole-person dilemma for many children in traditional school and how it relates to math?
  5. Why is not a good idea to "everyday" school math?
  6. What kind of reforms does Lave see necessary for school and why?

______Cole & Cole (1993). The development of children. New York: Scientific American Books. Ch.13. (option II) due 02/26 (W).

Eugene's questions:

  1. What are the differences and similarities among informal learning, apprenticeship, and schooling? What are their specific assessments of learning? What are consequences they have for cognitive development?
  2. What is historical development of literacy and schooling? How literacy was taught to elite and mass? What are top-down and bottom-up approaches to teaching to read? Give examples from your own schooling experience.
  3. What involves in learning math? Give examples. What are top-down and bottom-up approaches to teaching to do math? Give examples from your own schooling experience.
  4. What is instructional discourse? Give examples. How is it important for schooling? What are its functions?
  5. What are cognitive consequences of schooling? What is origin of intelligence tests and how do they relate to schooling? What are similarities between school tasks and intelligence tests?
  6. What factors affect school learning? What have you learned about schooling in three cultures? How do different types of schooling affect cognitive development?

Topic 6. Is memory a context-free function?

______Flavell, J. H., Miller, P. H., & Miller, S. A. (1993). Cognitive development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Ch.5 (option I). due 03/05 (W)

Eugene's questions:

  1. What is presented evidence to consider memory as machine? Do you have a counter-evidence that memory is mechanism?
  2. What are the differences among memory, remembering, recall, and recognition phenomena? Give examples of each. Why are these differences important? Why did Piaget think that infants can recognize but can't recall? What was his evidence? What is counter-evidence?
  3. What are memory strategies and metamemory? Give examples and discuss why are these concepts important?
  4. What facilitates and hinders remembering? Discuss importance of child's goal (and activity meaning for the child and motivation) in remembering? When remembering and memorizing strategies are inappropriate? Give examples.
  5. How do culture and schooling shape remembering and memory strategies?
  6. Why do you think researchers focus a lot on studying how children do not remember (deficiencies)?
  7. What is criticism of classical lab memory tests? Have you noticed similarities between lab memory tests and school tests? If so, what are they? How does remembering important for activities outside traditional schools? How do you think it can be studies there? What is evidence of remembering in traditional non-schooled and non-literate cultures?

______Rogoff, B. (1990). Apprenticeship in thinking: Cognitive development in social context. New York: Oxford University Press. Ch.8 (option II) due 03/05 (W).

Eugene's questions:

  1. How do children contribute in their own development? How do adults contribute in children's development? Give your own examples.
  2. What are limitations of research on social interaction? Give examples.
  3. How do children and caregivers shape children's language and conceptual development? What is evidence for that?
  4. How does the process of remembering often shared between child and caregiver? What kind of guidance is provided by caregiver and what is child's contribution in the guidance?
  5. What are explanation that sometimes social interaction facilitates child's performance in the activity and sometimes it does not?
  6. How may culture shape role of social interaction in joint activity?

Topic 7. Development of cognitive functions: Play and planning

______Vygotsky, L. (1987). Mind in society. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Ch.7. (option I) due 03/12 (W).

Eugene's questions:

  1. What is the relationship between reality and play and between rule and imagination, according to Vygotsky? How do object, action, and meaning link in play and in the reality? Why do children play?
  2. Why did Vygotsky say that play is not symbolic?
  3. What was for Vygotsky the evidence of development?
  4. What is the development of play? Why did Vygotsky call play as "leading activity" for preschool children? What is play for older children? What are their leading activity?

______Baker-Sennett, J., Matusov, E., & Rogoff, B. (1992). Social processes of creativity and planning: illustrated by children's playcrafting. In P. Light & G. Butterworth (Eds.) Context and cognition: ways of learning and knowing (pp. 253-281). Hertfordshire, England: Harvester-Wheatsheaf. (option II) due 03/12 (W).

Eugene's questions:

  1. What has been a traditional approach to studies of planning and what are the problems with such approach?
  2. Discuss the role of the teacher and teacher student in the playcrafting sessions. Why was the teacher student unsuccessful?
  3. What were the levels of planning discussed in the paper and how and why did their frequency change with the progress of the playcrafting?
  4. How did planning process related to the process of establishing social relations and coordination among the children?
  5. What are "planning in advance" and "planning in action"? What are the differences and similarities among them?
  6. Why do you think the presented study contradicts at some points previous finding?

Topic 8. How do family and community shape cognition?

______Cole & Cole (1993). The development of children. New York: Scientific American Books. Ch.11.(option I) due 03/19 (W).

Eugene's questions:

  1. How does family arrangement shapes and defines child's development? Give examples. Show how family arrangements denies cognitive tasks for the children.
  2. What are four general parental styles in US nuclear families? What are cognitive demands each style makes for the children? What is learning curriculum for the children within each of the style? How can children contribute in their parents' style?
  3. What are cognitive demands on child development during dramatic changes in family (e.g., divorce, death of a parent, unemployment, birth another child)?
  4. What are cognitive demands on child development created by poverty?
  5. What are different cultural values for child development are often held by middle-class versus working-class parents? How does it share cognitive development?
  6. What are different ways of parents' organizing reading for children? How do these ways shape cognitive development and prepare children for school?
  7. What are cognitive consequences of daycare? Give examples.

______Hernandez, D. J. (1994). Children's changing access to resources: A historical perspective. Social Policy Report: Society for Research in Child Development, 8 (1), 1-23. (option II) due 03/19 (W).

Eugene's questions:

  1. What historical patterns of childhood does Hernandez describe at what historical periods?
  2. What events does Hernandez list as being responsible for the changes in childhood in the past 150 years? What were the driving forces for change according to the author? How does he explain the changes?
  3. Why do you think Hernandez puts in quotation marks the word "normal" when he talks about new normal standards of living for families moved from farms to cities?
  4. How do you think development of "typical" children in 1850, 1900, 1950, 1990 is different and similar?
  5. How do ways of children's lives and environment shape their cognitive development? Give examples.

Topic 9. What does IQ measure?

______Gould, S. Y. (1981). The mismeasure of man. New York: Notron. Ch. 5 (pp.146-233, big chapter!). (Option I) due 03/31 (M).

Eugene's questions:

  1. What was a social order to develop IQ test and what was Binet's goal and approach for developing it? What social, political, organizational, and educational purposes the test was aimed to serve according to Binet? What was its relationship to schooling? What is "IQ" means? What was involved in the test? What was Binet's attitude toward the test? What kinds of limitations did he see in the test?
  2. How did the philosophy of the IQ test moved from identifying children needing additional educational help to defining inborn intellect? What were political, philosophical, and cultural values and assumptions behind that change (especially in US in 1920s)?
  3. What is within- and between-group heredity issue? Explain how in one group variation can mean heritability but between group variation can mean environment? Why do you think there was a historical tendency to find a unilinear scale for innate intellect? What were the evidence that supported this view and how this evidence was constructed? How did the tests of inborn intellect affect immigrants, minorities, mentally ill, criminals, social outfits, and poor? What was relationship of intelligence tests and eugenics?
  4. What was the purpose of mass IQ testing? Why and how did it used in the army during the World War I? What practical impacts did the testing have in the army and broader society? How did the IQ testing influence immigration laws?
  5. What was cultural, race, ecological, educational, and language biases of the early IQ testing in US? Give examples.

______Ceci, S. (1995). On intelligence-- more or less : a bio-ecological treatise on intellectual development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. (Option II) due 03/31 (M).

Eugene's questions:

  1. What are the differences between the two approaches considering a) intellect as a container of universal skills and b) intellect as ecological and cultural adaptation? Give examples. What is a deficit model of intellect? Give examples.
  2. How math of shoppers is different from school math? Give examples? Are goal defining and problem solving processes are separate in everyday and school activities? Give examples. Why is not a relationship between school (and IQ) tests and everyday problem solving skills?
  3. How does socio-economic status (SES) relate to IQ and why? What are the best predictors of IQ and why? How do parental styles associate with IQ and why?
  4. What were the problems of the Terman's study of the IQ prediction of social success?
  5. What are relationships among schooling, IQ, and cognition and why? What is the evidence of the relationships? Why do IQ scores are important in our society – what are their functions?
  6. After reading the chapters, where do you think the intelligence is located – in one's head, in one's culture, in the interaction of one's head and one's culture, in sociocultural practice, or elsewhere?


Topic 10. Handicapped culture and handicapped cognition

______McDermott, R. (1993). The acquisition of a child by a learning disability. In S. Chaiklin & J. Lave (Eds.), Understanding practice: Perspectives on activity and context. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press. (Option I) due 04/02 (W).

Eugene's questions:

  1. Why, according to McDermott, are conceptual and methodological constructs difficult to apply to everyday activities involving cognition? What is "ecological invalidity"?
  2. What was McDermott's description of learning disability? What is his hypothesis about learning disability? Does McDermott's hypothesis fit to these children? Do you agree with his hypothesis?
  3. What is institutional arrangements that, according to McDermott construct learning disability? Why do you think these arrangements are in place (what are their social, economic, and political functions)?
  4. What were the contexts of Adam's cognitive and learning abilities and competence and what were the contexts of his cognitive and learning disability and incompetence? What were similarities and differences between these contexts? Who and how organized and contributed to these contexts?
  5. Why does McDermott argue that learning disability did not belong to Adam? How does McDermott define learning?
  6. What is deficit theory and why is not it useful for description of Adam's behavior across contexts according to McDermott? What are "degradation ceremonies" in different practices what are their functions? What are the roles of competition, testing, arbitrary limitations for help, displaying of knowledge in constructing learning disability?
  7. What are three stories about everyday life tasks?

______Eckert, P. (1989). Jocks and Burnouts: Social Categories and Identity in the High School. New York: Teacher College Press. Chapters 1 & 7. (Option II) due 04/02 (W).

Eugene's questions:

  1. Who are Jocks and Burnouts? What socio-economic classes they come from and going to? Does your own schooling experience support Eckert's observations?
  2. What do Jocks and Burnouts learn in school? What are differences in similarities in learning curricula (versus teaching curricula) between Jocks and Burnouts?
  3. How does students' motivation manifest in activities (and interests) they choose to do in school? What is attitude school administration and teachers to the activities Jocks and Burnouts choose to do?
  4. Using the examples of Jocks and Burnouts, discuss socially constructed types of cognition.
  5. How is Burnout cognitive development grounded in their present and future sociocultural ecology? How does school contribute to such cognitive development? Give examples.