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May 2022

Creating the conditions for cognitive change: The interaction between task structures and specific strategies

Journal/Book: Child Develop. 1999; 70: 350 Main Street, Ste 6, Malden, MA 02148, USA. Blackwell Publishers. 588-603.

Abstract: It is widely accepted that conceptual development must, to an extent, be constrained by the conceptual structures a child already possesses. Yet this conclusion raises a problem, for a given conceptual structure can only constrain the discovery of elements that are already implicit within itself. Thus it cannot constrain the discovery of structures that are qualitatively different from itself. And yet, qualitative change in conceptual structures does occur. It is proposed here that conceptual change is constrained not only by conceptual structures in the child but also by structures inherent in the tasks in which children deploy their skills. The dynamic interaction between the strategies children bring to the task and the detailed structure of the task in hand acts to redirect the child's attention to new aspects of a problem, opening up the possibility of new discoveries that were not prefigured in the child's original approach. This process is explored first in a microgenetic study of (N = 30) children aged 5 to 9 years completing a bridge building task, focusing particularly on a case study of the problem solving of a 5-year-old child; and also through examining predictions as to the incidence of within-session change in problem solving in 5-year-olds playing the ''Twenty Questions'' game, using group data (N = 62).

Note: Article Thornton S, Univ Sussex, Sch Cognit & Comp Sci, Brighton BN1 9QH, E Sussex, ENGLAND

Keyword(s): COMPETENCE

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