Assessing Cognitive Abilities in Young Children

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1 Assessing Cognitive Abilities in Young Children Gloria Maccow, Ph.D. Assessment Training Consultant Objectives Describe cognitive factors that account for differential classroom performance; Describe basic cognitive processes and their relationship to higher-order conceptualization and reasoning. Describe assessment of cognitive abilities in young children. 2 Copyright All rights reserved.

2 In Early Childhood Programs, some children learn the pre-academic skills we present; some children do not. 3 Copyright All rights reserved. In Early Childhood Programs, some children are able to wait their turn; others respond impulsively. 4 Copyright All rights reserved.

3 What factors may account for such differential performance? Learner s s Skills (Berninger, 2007) Individual Differences in the Processes in the Learner s Mind or Brain Curriculum and Instructional Materials Teachers Instruction (Pedagogy) 6 Copyright All rights reserved.

4 Understanding the Child s s Mind Piaget s Stages of Cognitive Development Sensori-motor (Birth to to 2 years) Pre-operational (2 (2 to to 7 years) Concrete operational (7 (7 to to years) Formal operational (11 to to years) (Santrock & Yussen, 1992) 7 Copyright All rights reserved. Understanding the Child s s Mind Information Processing Information from the the environment Sensory and and Perceptual Processes Memory Thinking Language (Santrock & Yussen, 1992) 8 Copyright All rights reserved.

5 Information Processing Brain Mind Cognition memory problem-solving reasoning Output Input 9 Copyright All rights reserved. (Santrock & Yussen, 1992) What Do We Assess? (Developmentally Appropriate) Examples of Assessment (Examples of test items are not included in handout)

6 The Process of Learning Learning is is the process of acquiring information. What are the cognitive factors that enable students to show what they know and can do? How do they receive, perceive, process, and remember information? (Elliott, 2007) How do do they collect, sort, store, and retrieve information? (Miller, 2007) 11 Copyright All rights reserved. Sensory-Motor Functions and Learning Input Is Is the the child able to to see the the information? Is Is visual acuity within normal limits? What about visual discrimination? Is Is the the child able to to hear the the information? Is Is hearing acuity within normal limits? What about auditory discrimination? Output Is Is the the child able to to respond in in writing? Are fine motor abilities within normal limits? Is Is the the child able to to respond orally? Are language production abilities within normal limits? 12 Copyright All rights reserved.

7 Attention and Learning Does the child... selectively attend to to certain stimuli while ignoring competing, irrelevant stimuli? sustain attentional focus for a prolonged period? shift attentional resources from one activity to to another? respond to to more than one task simultaneously divided attention? 13 Copyright All rights reserved. Memory and Learning In schools, we expect children to learn and remember information. Often, the information is presented visually and/or verbally. Some of the information is novel; some is acquired. Strategies Language Images Conceptual (Mather & Goldstein, 2008) 14 Copyright All rights reserved.

8 Visual-Spatial Processes and Learning Much of what is presented in school has either a visual-spatial or language basis. Visual-perceptual skills play a major role in the development of a child s handwriting skills, and fluency in math and reading. For example, a student may be able to name individual letters in a word (visual analysis, b-e-d), but she may be unable to integrate the letters to say the word (visual synthesis, bed). 15 Copyright All rights reserved. Language and Learning Receptive Children must understand words and sentences to perceive and process information. Expressive They must use words to show they can retrieve information from memory. 16 Copyright All rights reserved.

9 Language and Learning Early development of reading depends critically on whether the receptive phonological component of the aural system and the expressive phonological component of the oral system are developing in in an age-appropriate manner (Berninger, 2007). Language Literacy 17 Copyright All rights reserved. Process of Learning and Remembering Encoding Consolidation Retrieval External information is transformed into mental representations or memories and stored in STM. Information from immediate memory is solidified into long-term memory stores. Information is brought into conscious awareness. Immediate Delayed Semantic Working 18 Copyright All rights reserved.

10 Executive Functions Mental functions associated with ability to engage in behaviors that are: Purposeful Cat Organized Self-regulated Goal-directed Internal supervisory guide for learning and performance in the classroom. 19 Copyright All rights reserved. Executive Functions and Working Memory Many executive function tasks also require working memory actively holding information in memory during cognitive tasks. Children with poor working memory may lose the thread and forget parts of the instruction, or even their own intention in the face of competing stimuli. 20 Copyright All rights reserved.

11 Cognitive Processing Speed and Learning The ability to perform automatically with little or no effort improves dramatically as children get older. Automaticity is linked to speed and processing capacity; as an activity is completed faster, it requires less processing capacity. As processing capacity increases, it becomes easier to complete tasks that were previously considered to be difficult. (Santrock & Yussen, 1992). 21 Copyright All rights reserved. Sample Test Results...

12 Psycho-educational Psycho-educational Interpretation Interpretation Chart Chart Student s Student s Name: Name: Sample Sample Student Student Age: Age: 3:10 3:10 School: School: Early Early HeadStart HeadStart Test: Test: DAS-II DAS-II Eligibility Determination Extremely Low 2.2 % Borderline 6.7% Low Average 16.1 % Average Range 50 % of Students High Average 16.1 % Superior 6.7 % Very Superior 2.2 % GCA SS = 65 Verbal Comprehension SS = 69 Nonverbal Reasoning SS = 73 Spatial SS = 72 Early Number Concepts PR = 3 Recall of Digits Forward PR = 2 Recognition of Pictures PR = Psycho-educational Psycho-educational Interpretation Interpretation Chart Chart Student s Student s Name: Name: Sample Sample Student Student Age: Age: 4:7 4:7 School: School: Pre-K Pre-K Test: Test: WPPSI-IV WPPSI-IV Instructional Planning Extremely Low 2.2 % Borderline 6.7% Low Average 16.1 % Average Range 50 % of Students High Average 16.1 % Superior 6.7 % Very Superior 2.2 % Full Scale IQ = 117 Verbal Comprehension = 132 Visual-Spatial = 112 Fluid Reasoning = 114 Working Memory = 97 Processing Speed =

13 Learning Depends on... sensory-motor functions, attentional processes, visual-spatial processing, language processes, memory and learning processes, executive functions, and speed and efficiency of of cognitive processing. 25 Copyright All rights reserved. Summary If a child is not performing the grade-level skill, identify the cognitive factors that are necessary for and related to performance of the skill. Assess these cognitive factors to determine why the child is struggling with the specific skill. 26 Copyright All rights reserved.

14 References Bayley, N. (2006). Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development-Third Edition. San Antonio, TX: Pearson. Berninger, V. W. (2007). PAL-II user s guide. San Antonio, TX: Pearson. Elliott, C. (2007). Differential Ability Scales- Second Edition: Introductory and technical handbook. Bloomington, MN: Pearson. 27 Copyright All rights reserved. References Korkman, M., Kirk, U., & Kemp, S. (2007). NEPSY-II. San Antonio, TX: Pearson. Mather, N., & Goldstein, S. (2008). Learning disabilities and challenging behaviors. Baltimore, MD: Brookes. Miller, D. C. (2007). Essentials of school neuropsychological assessment. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. 28 Copyright All rights reserved.

15 References Santrock, J. W., & Yussen, S. R. (1992). Child development. Dubuque, IA: Brown). Wechsler, D. (2004). Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Fourth Edition. San Antonio, TX: Pearson. Wechsler, D. (2012). Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence-Fourth Edition. (2012). San Antonio, TX: Pearson. 29 Copyright All rights reserved. Customer Service (USA) (Canada) Comments and Questions

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