University View

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), February 11, 2010 | Go to article overview

University View


Byline: Charlotte Greenway

THE focal point of cognitive development is how children learn, process and organise information.

It involves language acquisition, mental imagery, thinking, reasoning, problem solving and memory development. To understand how children acquire and develop in any one of these domains, it is necessary to identify how children's thinking develops over time.

Only then can we begin to answer the question of children's cognitive development and learning. To date, the majority of research on cognitive development has taken the form of cross-sectional and longitudinal studies.

Such methods concentrate on single snapshots of behaviour or performance at specific points in time. However, using such data does not provide detailed accounts of the variability and change proposed by Siegler (1996).

How children progress over a specific time frame is of great developmental importance to our understanding of cognitive change. However, to discover and understand such change, data needs to be obtained by observing the changes directly as they occur and not, as in traditional designs, where behaviour is measured at specific age-related points in time, often with lapses in time and performance (Chen, 2003; Siegler and Crowley, 1991).

Therefore, there is a need to apply a longitudinal methodology which intensely details children's behaviour over the period of that change to enable the observation of cognitive development.

One contemporary methodology that enables us to measure strategy variability and change over time is the microgenetic method. The essence of the microgenetic method is that, through observation, the change that occurs during a cognitive task sheds light on development (Lavelli, Pantoja, Hsu, Messinger and Fogel, 2005).

Through the exploration of quantitative and qualitative change, one can examine the processes that arise through analysing each component of the task. The microgenetic method is a research design that obtains detailed information about particular changes. …

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