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Cognitve Psychology

The way a child thinks has always interest me. A child goes through cognitive development as they mature and age. Actually being able to see first hand how a child thinks is amazing. I interviewed a three-year-old Hispanic male, an eleven-year-old Hispanic female, and a six-year-old Hispanic male. During each interview I spent time at the subjects house playing, resting, and interviewing. I wanted to see how different each answer was compare to the age group they were categorized in. I assumed in the begging of my project that I would find the most interesting answers pertaining to the questions asked to the eleven year old female.

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My first interview was with the three year old. He was a very intelligent for his age. He knew how to say his ABC’s and count to twenty successfully without any help. When asked what he wanted to be when he grew up he said, “I want to work at Chuck Cheese.” The three year old knew he attended Shapes Head Start and his teacher’s names. I gave the boy a break every 10 minutes so he will not get frustrated and irritable. When the boy was ready to continue I began to do experimental questions instead of open-minded questions. I began by asking the boy to tell me which row of buttons on the counter had more. In the first row there were ten and the second there were ten, but spread out making it the longer row. The three year old pointed to the longer row. I asked him to look at it again carefully and tell me which row had more buttons. The three year old counted both rows and concluded they were the same. I measured out 2 cups of water and placed one cup in a tall glass and the other cup in the smaller round glass. I asked the boy to tell me which glass had more water.

He answer the tall glass had more water. Tried to explain to him the concept they wee both equal by placing them in two similar containers. I am not sure he was able to grasp the concept fully. I rolled two pieces of clay in equal balls then rolled one ball into a line. I asked the boy which piece had more clay and he said, “ The straight one has more.” I showed the boy four different pictures of cows grazing I grass. Each picture had 5 barns but in different arrangements. I asked the boy which cow was going to have only a little to eat and he pointed to the picture with the barns spread out in a moderate distance. The child was able to repeat three of the four word I said after a five minute interval. When I asked the boy how a car and plane wee the same he said. “You have to drive them.” I asked the boy to put the helicopters, plane, trucks and cars in the groups they belong. He placed the helicopters and planes together and separated the cars and trucks. When I asked the child to count out the ten blocks he picked each one up and placed it on the opposite side as he said the numbers out loud.

The six-year-old boy was shy and not very talkative. I asked the boy what he wanted to be when he grew up and he said. “ I want to be a cop.” The six-year-old boy was able to distinguish which role had more buttons. He however did not correctly answer which cup had the most water. He found it very interesting when I showed him they had the same amount. When I approached him with the barns in the grass. He did not want to answer and became a little frustrated. He did however identify that the two pieces of clay had proportional amounts because they both started off as balls. The six year old was able to repeat all four words after five minutes was up. He categorized the helicopters in one group the planes in another group the cars in a different group. The boy said cars and planes are the same because they both can go fast, you have to drive them, and they both have tires. When I asked the boy to count the blocks he quickly and quietly completed the task.

My third subject the eleven-year-old girl was very intelligent. The eleven-year old girl aid she spends most of her time reading books. I asked her what her favorite book was and she said, “ I don’t exactly have one favorite, but I love the Harry Potter series.” She said her parents were very hard on her making sure she gets her work done and they are very strict about her making all A’s on her report card. It is expected of her every six weeks. The eleven-year-old girl was able to answer which row had more buttons, which cow had more grazing area, which glass had more water, and which piece of clay had more clay successfully. The eleven year old was able to categorize the planes, helicopters, cars, and trucks according to size and function. When I asked her how a car and plane are the same she said, “ Cars and planes can both be driven, of course they both have engines and need gasoline to run. They both carry passengers, you can have a wreck in both; they both are a way of transportation. I asked the girl to tell me how many blocks there were in the pile and she finished in less than 5 seconds. She did it without speaking and very quickly.

Obviously all three subjects were different in age but overall they were the same. I found the different age groups to progress in thinking skills, as the subject got older. I found more ways he subjects differed among each other. All subjects attended school and were able to count. I found that all age groups paused a moment to think about questions and were very silent while thinking. I found the subjects relating to Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development and Vygotsky’s Theory of Cognitive Development. Their zone of proximal development was very obvious. The eleven year old indicated her parents were very hard on her and she like to read obviously showing with the guidance of her parents and teacher her knowledge is expanding drastically and her zone of proximal distance is very large indicating great success in school according to Vygotsky. The six year old had a zone of proximal distance but not as large as the eleven year old. He really didn’t seem very interested in school, indicating help from teachers may do no good. The six-year-old boy comes from a divorced family and lives with his father and stepmother. I suppose he spends most of his time thinking of his mom instead of what is going on in school, therefore making poor grades and getting in trouble by the teacher, making hi not want to learn. The three-year-old boy had a good zone of proximal distance; my assumption is that the Head Start program he is in is doing him well. According to the three Stages of speech by Vygotsky, I found the three-year-old boy had mastered the first stage, social speech and the second stage, egocentric speech. When I asked him to count the blocks in the pile he counted each one out loud. The six year old and the eleven year old completed the same task without saying a word, sowing the third level of speech inner speech. I also asked questions pertaining to Piaget’s conservation theory. I found that appearance dominated logical thought in the three year old and partially in the six year old. Conservation of volume seemed the hardest concept to grasp in the two age groups. The children found it very hard to relate the two sizes of glasses with the same amount of substance. The eleven year old showed logical thought and did not base her observations only on appearance. Information-processing approach was included in my experiment. I found that the three year old did surprisingly well when asked to repeat the four words I repeated after a five -minute interval. The three year old successfully repeated three words back to me, they were not in order but my instructions did not ask them to do so. I found that the six year old had about the same short-term memory span as the three year old. The six year old could only repeat three of the four words after a minute interval span. The eleven year old had a noticeably large short-term memory span. After a ten-minute interval the eleven year old repeated every word in order as I had said them.

I found that really neat and interesting. I found that the three year old pertained more to Vygotskys theory of cognitive development. He did complete the conservation methods according to Piaget’s method, but I found that with my assistance he became more aware of the concept. Indicating Zone of proximal development as an important aspect. I could not directly place the three year old in the pre-operational stage of Piaget’s theory because, during his play time I found egocentric speech did not predominate and he demonstrated logical thought when playing his various games. I found that the eleven-year old could fit into the concrete operational stage of Piaget’s theory. However she displayed that her zone of proximal development help influence her reach that level. The eleven-year-old girl also displayed all levels of speech: social speech, egocentric speech, and inner speech. I found that she related to both Piaget and Vygotsky but she fit into more of the Vygotsy theory cognitive development by showing the importance of her books, parents, and teacher. I found that the six year old did not perform as well as I expected. I found it really interesting that this child comes from a divorced family and is an only child. Perhaps that is why he is not as knowledgeable as I expected. His zone of proximal development isn’t as large as the three year old and the eleven year old coming from a family of six people all living in the same household. I would have to place the six year old in the same level of Piaget’s theory as I placed the three year old, the pre-operational stage.

Overall he did not perform well on the conservation questions I asked him. He did display all levels of speech: social speech, egocentric speech, and inner speech. The six year old did not have a large advance when categorizing the objects compare to the three year old. I would have to say the zone of proximal development played an important part in this child’s lack of capabilities.

I found this project very interesting. Initially I did not expect my subjects of three different age groups to display that the zones of proximal development played an important part of their knowledge and thinking skills. In the end I tried to conclude why the three year old and six year old performed on about the same eleven. I finally realized the difference in their zone of proximal development. This project help me realize that being there for my son at a very early age is a crucial part to him being successful in the future, guiding him in the right direction can help him understand and want to earn more. I began to realize that when I was young my mother did not work she stayed home always interacted with me; I was also in the head star program. Perhaps that influenced my success so far. If I could go back and change the way I did the experiment I we would interview more people with various backgrounds. I would also include infants and adolescence. I think then my hypothesis of the zone of proximal development is very important on the level of knowledge the child display, will be more valid if I could interview these children. I did not have a problem indicating if my subjects were honest or not because most of my questions pertained to experiment questions rather than personal questions. I found this project very useful in helping me understand how children think and why they think in that manner.

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