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The Development of Children’s Concepts of Causal Relations

The Development of Children’s Concepts of Causal Relations

Volume: 13
Copyright Date: 1937
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 116
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  • Book Info
    The Development of Children’s Concepts of Causal Relations
    Book Description:

    The Development of Children’s Concepts of Causal Relations was first published in 1937. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions. This is a report of group tests administered to 732 school children between 8 and 16 years of age, in grades 3 to 8. The children were asked to explain 11 scientific demonstrations, such as putting out a candle with a glass jar, and 12 commonly observed natural phenomena, such as snow and thunder. Quantified scores herein are analyzed in relationship to age, sex, intelligence, school grade, and socio-economic status. The results give insight into children’s logical processes and the development of thinking.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-3770-0
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-2)
    (pp. 3-14)

    One of the most interesting and most important problems of psychology is the nature of thinking. Yet in the fields of both adult and child psychology, the higher mental processes have been neglected, whereas the simpler and less complicated problems have been the center of attention.

    The scarcity of research on children’s thinking, and our consequent limited knowledge of the subject, are not to be explained by a lack of interest in the problem, nor by a lack of appreciation of its importance, but rather by the extreme difficulty of formulating experimental methods for investigation which meet the needs of...

    (pp. 15-28)

    The selection of questions of causality for the children to answer was an important problem. There were quite definite criteria that the questions must satisfy:

    1. The questions based on demonstrations of experiments (for Form I) had to be practicable for performance in the schoolroom. The apparatus involved had to be small enough to be transported easily; the action of the experiment had to be simple enough for the children to distinguish what happened; and the apparatus had to be large enough and simple enough so that children all over the room could observe the facts of the experiment without difficulty....

    (pp. 29-42)

    A quantified scoring system for the answers to the various questions was much to be desired. A measure of the adequacy of the answersas explanations of the phenomena involvedwould give us a direct measure of the child’s understanding of the problem, free from any philosophical implications as to logicality, etc. It would also give us an opportunity to study the development of such an understanding and its relationship to such other factors as sex, socio-economic status, and intelligence, and provide us with a measure to which correlational analysis might be applied.

    Grouping of answers. — Since there were...

    (pp. 43-50)

    The words used in each answer to each question were counted and recorded as a rough measure of language development. There is no direct evidence that the length of response is an adequate measure of language development. Certain evidence, however, points to the possibility of a relationship. McCarthy (25), Day (7), and Smith (36) have found that with preschool children the length of sentence is closely related to language development. LaBrant (24), in studying the use of subordinate clauses as a measure of language development, found an increase in length of subordinate clauses from nine years to adulthood. The brevity...

    (pp. 51-64)

    The author attempted to classify each answer to each question according to the classification of Piaget (30), which includes seventeen types of causal thought. It soon became obvious that the task was too difficult and too much a matter of judgment to be left to one person. The cooperation of two other persons was therefore enlisted. Two professors in the Institute of Child Welfare, both directly concerned with this research and both interested in and familiar with Piaget’s work, worked with the author in the classification of the answers. Three entirely independent classifications of each answer were thus obtained.


    (pp. 65-77)

    Upon analyzing Piaget’s seventeen types of causal thinking, it became apparent that the types fell into more or less definite sequences. Instead of dividing the types into logical and prelogical as Piaget did, the author divided them upon the basis of the type of agent involved in the explanation. It was found that there were certain types of explanations which involved a materialistic cause — that is, in which the only cause was some reaction of a material substance. In another group the principal cause as given was nonmaterialistic — that is, some person, some spirit, some force was called...

    (pp. 78-81)

    For comparative purposes, 13 kindergarten children were given the same tests as were the children in grades 3 to 8. This group had a mean chronological age of 64.8 months, with a range of 59 to 70 months, and a mean IQ of 116.5, with a range of 103 to 130. Since it was impossible to administer the tests in the same form as that used with the older children, the individual questioning method was used. No follow-up questions were used beyond obvious repetition and slightly different wording of the same question. Any suggestion of the answer was rigidly avoided....

    (pp. 82-90)

    Some of the items used in the two forms of this test have been used by previous investigators. A number were taken directly from Piaget’s work; others were taken from Huang, Keen, Peterson, and Grigsby. Some have been used by several of these investigators. It will be of interest to compare the findings of these independent studies, in which different techniques, different ages and sampling of subjects, and different methods of analysis of data were employed.

    Candle in the jar. — This item was used by Keen (23), who employed the individual testing and the multiple choice method. Keen found...

    (pp. 91-100)

    Evaluation of the testing technique. — The technique used in this investigation, that of presenting the experiments to children in one schoolroom at a time and having them write their explanations, proved highly satisfactory. It is difficult to evaluate the technique statistically, for the usual methods of determining reliability and validity are not applicable. The reliability coefficients (odd-even) are high, however, in the opinion of the author, considering that this is not a standardized test and that every item differs greatly from every other item. The same is true of the coefficients relating one form to the other.

    Several lines...

    (pp. 101-102)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 103-104)