The Use of Computers in Kindergarten, With or Without Adult Mediation: Effects on Children’s Cognitive Performance and Behavior

 

Klein, S.P, Nir-Gal, O & Darom, E

Computers in Human Behavior, 16, 591-608

 

Abstract

This study was designed to examine the differential effects of three types of adult interaction with kindergarten children using computers on children’s cognitive performance and style of response.  The types of adult interaction considered were: (a) Mediation: provision of mediation, including behaviors such as focusing, affecting, expanding, encouraging, and regulation of behavior, (b) Accompaniment: responding to children’s questions, and (c) No assistance: provision of minimal technical assistance.  The study sample included 150 kindergarten children, age 5 to 6 years.  Children who engaged in adult-mediated computer activity showed higher levels of performance on a series of cognitive measures and more reflective response styles as compared to the other children.  Adults' mediating behaviors found most predictive of children’s cognitive performance were expanding, encouraging and regulation of behavior.  Findings led to the conclusion that integrating adult mediation in preschool computer learning environments facilitates informed use of computer technologies and has positive effects on children’s performance.

 

The Use of Computers in Kindergarten, With or Without Adult Mediation; Effects on Children’s Cognitive Performance and Behavior

The effects of using computers on cognitive development in early childhood has been studied extensively, especially in the context of cognitive processes such as information-processing, problem solving, planning, reflective thinking, visual thinking, analogical, abstract, logical-mathematical, creative and critical thinking, visio-motor coordination, memory, vocabulary and metacognition (Brett, 1995; Campbell, Fein, & Schwartz, 1991; Clements & Gullo, 1984; Clements, Nastasi, & Swaminathan, 1993; Haugland, 1992; Kelly and O’Kelly, 1993; Klein & Nir-Gal, 1992; Masters and Yelland, 1996; Mikhalovitz & Levita, 1989; Miller & Emihovich, 1986; Nir-Gal, 1996; Samaras, 1996; Shani, 1986; Swick, 1989, 1992; Yelland, 1995).  Despite this apparent abundance of findings supporting the positive effects of computers in education, research has shown that the great expectations that accompanied the introduction of computers into the educational system have not been realized,  (Becker, 1987, 1991; Clements et al., 1984s, 1993; Mevarekh & Khativa, 1996).

            Although the initial assumption was that computers could replace teachers, computers are no longer viewed as miracle-machines able to perform meaningful educational tasks without teacher intervention (Milin & Givon, 1993).  Equipping classrooms with computers and software is not sufficient, in and of itself, to achieve the objectives expected from combining computer use with human instruction (Woodrow, 1989).  It has been repeatedly suggested that effective integration of computers in teaching environments depends on teachers ability to alter the traditional role of teacher-as-knowledge-provider to teacher-as-organizer, diagnostician and guide, learning partner, helper, and mediator of computer-assisted learning at all ages, including early childhood (Clements et al., 1984, 1993; Delclos & Kulewicz, 1986; Fisher, 1996; Klein & Nir-Gal, 1992; Masters & Yelland, 1996; Nir-Gal, 1996; Offir, Katz & Schmida, 1991; Samaras, 1996; Solomon, 1996).  Teachers’ roles, in a computer learning environment have not been the focus of extensive educational research as yet.  An ERIC search of studies from 1966 to date revealed about 50,000 studies on computers in education.  Only about one percent of these studies focused on computer use in early childhood.  These studies dealt primarily with the various effects of computers on young children, and with the advantages, disadvantages and potentials of computer learning environments for preschoolers.  The roles of the adults in preschool computer learning environments were generally overlooked.

            This study examines the effects of three types of adult teaching interaction with preschool children in a computer learning environment, on their problem solving behavior and cognitive performance.  The study represents the first attempt to use Mediated Learning theory to identify and explain basic characteristics of adult-child mediation, as expressed in the process of teaching in a computer learning environment. 

The theory of Structural Cognitive Modifiability and of Mediated Learning (Feuerstein, Rand & Hoffman, 1979; Feuerstein, Rand, Hoffman & Miller, 1980; Klein 1985, 1996) identifies basic characteristic components of adult-child interaction which constitute Mediated Learning Experiences (MLE) for children and their potential effects on children’s cognitive development.  Unlike Direct learning, which occurs when the child perceives and processes information directly through the senses without adult intervention, Mediated Learning occurs when the environment is modified, changed to fit the child’s needs, interests and abilities, by an adult who undertakes an active role in adapting elements of the environment to those needs and abilities. 

 

 The mediator modifies the stimuli by changing their intensity, frequency, order, form or context; by arousing the child’s curiosity, vigilance, and perceptual acuity; and by trying to improve or create in the child the cognitive functions required for temporal, spatial, and cause-effect relationships (Feuerstein & Feuerstein, 1991; Feuerstein et al., 1979; Feuerstein, Rand, Hoffman, & Miller, 1980; Feuerstein, Rand, & Rynders, 1988).  Based on MLE Theory (Feuerstein, et al., 1979, 1980) and empirical studies (Klein, 1993, 1996) five basic criteria of Mediated Learning experiences were defined (see table1).

 In line with Feuerstein’s theory (Feuerstein et al. 1979) the MLE processes are gradually internalized by the child and become an integrated mechanism.  Adequate MLE interactions facilitate the development of various cognitive functions, learning sets, mental operations, strategies, and need systems.  The internalized MLE processes  allow the developing child to use them independently later on, to benefit from learning experiences in diverse contexts, and to modify his or her cognitive system by means of self-mediation. Based on the theory of MLE it is assumed that the more the child experiences MLE interactions, the more he or she is able to learn from direct exposure to formal and informal learning situations.  This assumption was supported by a series of longitudinal and cross-cultural studies (Klein & Alony, 1993; Klein, 1996; Tzuriel, 1999)

            In several studies a relationship between adult-mediated computer activity and the development of cognitive processes in preschoolers was found (Clements et al., 1993, Klein & Nir-Gal, 1992; Miller & Emihovich, 1986, Nir-Gal, 1996, Shani, 1986). These studies revealed that children using computers with adult assistance improved cognitive processes such as abstract reasoning, logical thinking, and analogical and reflective thinking.  However, there was still no research evidence clearly delineating the fundamental characteristics of adult-child mediation, as expressed in the context of a computer learning environment and the development of specific cognitive processes of young children.

Three types of adult guidance of preschoolers using computers were compared in the current study: (a) Mediation- throughout the child-computer interaction, the adult guidance included: focusing, affecting, expansion, encouragement and regulation of behavior.  The mediator’s behavior was based on MLE theory (Feuerstein, et al., 1979, 1980), as developed for intervention with young children by Klein (Klein, 1996); (b) Accompaniment- routine adult guidance, involving the presence of an adult responsive to questions initiated by the children in the computer environment and without adult assistance; (c) No Assistance- only technical or basic instructions were provided at the beginning of a new activity.

 

Method

Subjects

            Subjects were 150 kindergarten children, 79 boys and 71 girls, ranging in age between 5 and 6 years (mean age 5.4, SD=.8), from kindergartens located in the south of Israel.  Most of the children (90%) came from middle class families.  All participating kindergartens (N=30) were randomly selected by the Board of Education.  Thirty of the 32 kindergartens approached agreed to participate in the study. Of the participating children 75% were second generation in Israel, 15% came from Eastern Europe (primarily from states previously in the Soviet Union),  5% came from Ethiopia and 5% from the USA and Canada. Most of the parents (58%) were High School graduates and 32% had higher academic degrees. The kindergarten teachers (N=30) were all female between 25 and 39 years old (with a mean age of 30 (SD=3.75). All teachers were certified as required by the state i.e. graduated from a teacher’s training college. Since the study was carried out as part of the regular activities in the kindergarten, parental permission was not required.  Parents were informed about the study and encouraged to contact the researchers with any questions or reservations. It should be noted that there was not attrition in the number of participants from the beginning to the final sample.

Procedure

Computers are available for children’s use in all Israeli kindergartens, in line with the guidelines of the National Board of Education.  These guidelines relate to the hardware and location of the computer (i.e. IBM, 486, colored SVGA, hard disk MB 120), placed in a corner of the kindergarten class, on a small table, surrounded by 2-3 small chairs.  The computer is turned on, loaded and ready for the children to use when they wish, throughout their entire stay at the kindergarten.  Children can work individually or in small groups.  All children in this study used the computer individually, three times a week, about 25 minutes each time.

The kindergartens were randomly divided into six groups.  The division was made according to two independent variables: (a) type of guidance (Mediation, Accompaniment, and No assistance); (b) type of program (Logo software and Game software).  Each group was exposed to a different combination of guidance and program.

Teacher training included the following components: 1.  A 21 hour course, 7 bi-weekly sessions, 3 hours each, held in the afternoons of regular school work days followed by 2.  Personal guidance in the kindergarten.  Each participating teacher  received 10 hours of guidance while she was interacting with the children.  This type of guidance was given over a period of 3 months by a professional educator specializing in computers, science education and technology.   The latter are commonly involved in training of kindergarten teachers in Israel and are employed by the Board of Education.  Teachers in all the study groups learned about the computer hardware and gained experience in using the specific programs they later introduced to the children.  While the teachers in the mediation group received mediational training the other teachers were given information regarding landmarks of development, developmental sequences and other components commonly included in training of early childhood educators in Israel.  With the exception of the mediational component all teachers participated in an identical training program.  Examples of training exercises in mediation can be seen in Table 2 presenting mediational training for the Logo program.  Similar exercises were designed for each of the game programs.

Training of the teachers was designed to help teachers focus children’s attention to salient factors related to the task, to characteristic features of the computer and to their own behavior.  In addition, teachers in the mediation group learned how to express meaning and affect, expand learning experiences beyond the immediate context (i.e. to associate contrast , relate past, present and future experiences, ask challenging questions, etc.), and how to encourage the child (with explanations).

            The main hypothesis in this study was that adult mediation would improve children’s abstract thinking, planning ability, vocabulary, visuo-motor coordination and reflective thinking.  It was also hypothesized that, in the adult-mediation group using Logo software, children’s performance on these measures would be higher than those in the adult mediation group using other games.

            Following the training, all teachers in the mediation group achieved two criteria: 1. Could verbally describe and provide examples for the basic criteria of mediation, 2. Applied this knowledge in their interactions with the children in the computer learning environment.

 The adult-child-computer interactions were videotaped with a focus on the behavior of both the child and the teacher, children’s response-time to test items, number of correct answers, and strategies used.  Teacher’s mediation in the mediation groups was evaluated by means of counting the frequency of appearance of each criteria of mediation based on the OMI (“Observing Mediational Interaction”, Klein & Alony, 1993, Klein, 1996).  The research design in this study was a pre-post intervention design including an experimental vs. control groups, pretest scores were taken before the onset of the intervention in the kindergartens.  The intervention lasted 17 weeks.  Throughout the intervention period each child used the computer in his or her kindergarten, for 20 minutes daily, three times a week.  Children were assigned their turn to work on the computer randomly.  At the end of the intervention post intervention measures similar to those administered at the pre-intervention were taken for each child individually.  It should be noted that there was no attrition from the beginning to the final sample.

Measures

            Three measures were used to assess levels of abstract reasoning: Raven’s Colored Matrices (Raven, 1965); The Visual Association test from the Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Abilities (ITPA) (Kirk & McCarthy, 1971); and The WPPSI Similarities Subtest (Wechsler, 1967).  Both the first and second tests are multiple choice analogical reasoning tasks, involving geometric forms (on the Raven and pictorial representation of objects (on the Visual Association Test).  The WPPSI Similarities Test includes open-ended verbal questions requiring reasoning i.e. “How are a banana and an apple alike”.  Two measures of vocabulary were used: the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) (Dunn, 1981) measuring children’s understanding of words (no verbal response is called for.  The child is presented with four pictures and asked to choose the one presenting the word said by the examiner) and the WPPSI vocabulary subtest (Wechsler, 1967) measuring the ability to define words, i.e. the active use of language.  To evaluate visuo-motor coordination, the Beery Visual Motor Integration Test (Beery, 1989) was used, requiring copying of progressivley complex geometric forms.  The Mazes Subtest of the Wechsler Pre-Primer Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI) (Wechsler, 1967) was used for the assessment of childrens planning behavior.  This test is a paper and pencil test requiring the child to solve problems involving mazes.  (All of the above measures are commonly used in research and psychoeducational work with young children and have established reliability).  Assessment of responsiveness was based on measures of the children’s response-time with a distinction made between easy items answered correctly and difficult items answered erroneously on the Raven’s Colored Matrices.

 

Findings

            To test the treatment effect, i.e., the effects of adult mediation, accompaniment and no assistance on children’s cognitive performance, a split-plot 3-way analysis of variance, was used, with treatment and type of computer software as the ‘between subjects’ variables and time (before-after) as the ‘within subjects’ variable.  Differential treatment effects were found in the ‘treatment by time’ interaction. A three way ‘treatment by software by time’ interaction revealed treatment effects which were dependent on the type of software used by the children.  In order to protect against overall type 1 error we have marked as significant results only F statistics which were significant at the .007 (.005/7) level which is a conservative estimate for the overall type 1 error considering the fact that there are 7 dependent variables in this study.

            As can be seen in Table 3, significant treatment effects were found for all cognitive measures, with the greatest gains in cognitive performance found in the mediation group.  For one cognitive measure, the Raven Colored Matrices, the treatment effect was found to be software dependent, i.e., the mediation group progressed more than the other two groups especially when children were using Logo software as compared with computer games.  It should be noted that the Group x software x time interaction for WPPSI Vocabulary test (F=3.48) was significant only in the context of a single dependent variable framework and not in a multivariate framework.

All three groups made progress on most of the measures however, the Mediation group showed the greatest pre-post intervention improvement as compared to the two other groups.  Scheffe tests confirmed that these differences between the Mediation group and the other two groups were significant on all the measures used in the current study.  These findings suggest that children’s verbal skills (vocabulary) and abstract reasoning, (Raven and Similarities) tasks have improved following the use of computers with adult mediation.

            The group that received adult mediation was expected to exhibit a higher level of reflectiveness than the others.  It was anticipated that they would display a longer response-time to difficult test items (generating erroneous answers), and that the gap between their response-time to these items and their response-time to easier questions answered correctly would be greater than the corresponding gaps shown by the two other groups.  In order to test this hypothesis, MANCOVAs (treatment by types of software) were performed.  Significant differences among the three groups, with regard to response-time were found, F(4,282) = 2.91; p < .001.  Table 3 presents means and standard deviations of response-time measures, for all three-treatment groups before and after the intervention, and the results of the analyses of variance performed separately for each measure.

            As can be seen in Table 4, significant differences were found among the three groups on both measures of responsiveness (response-time to items answered incorrectly and response-time to items answered correctly).  In other words, children in the Mediation group learned to prolong their response time to items they identified as difficult, more than children in the other two groups.  Prior to the intervention, no difference was found between children’s response time to items answered incorrectly as compared to those answered correctly.  Following the intervention, greater differences between the two types of response time were found in the group receiving adult mediation as compared to the other two groups.  Furthermore, in all three groups, both pre- and post-intervention response-time to items answered incorrectly were greater than those of items answered correctly.  Analyses of variance, performed separately on both occasions (before and after), showed significant differences among the groups only after the intervention F(2,144) = 4.77;  p < .01, and not before it F(2,144) = 0.80; p > .05.  Analysis by Newman-Kules’ T-test for paired comparisons showed that the difference was found only between the Mediation group versus the other two groups.

Prior to the intervention, 96% of all children used trial-and-error strategies. Following the intervention, significant differences were found between the groups while using Logo software (X2 = 27.78; df = 2; p < .001) and Game software (X2 = 41.09; df = 2; p < .001). Children in the Mediation group had clearly shifted to a preference for planning strategies, while children in the other two groups continued to use more trial and error strategies.

No significant main effects were found in a series of MANCOVAs (treatment groups by demographic background variables) i.e. gender, previous computer experience or lack of it and parental level of education.  To examine the effects of the intervention on children whose parents’ educational levels differed, the subjects were divided into two groups, based on mean educational levels of parents (years of schooling).  In addition, MANCOVAs were performed for three ethnic origins (Western, Eastern and Native Israeli) by treatment.  No significant effects were found for any of the above mentioned variables.  A MANOVA for Visual Association test scores, with reference to availability of computer experience or lack of it at home by treatment, revealed a significant interaction (F (2,131) = 8.08; p < .001).  The major contributor to the difference between the various treatment groups was the gain in the Visual Association scores of the children in the Mediation group who had not used computers at home; these scores rose by almost 10 points, whereas the scores of all other subjects increased by only 4-6 points.  It is evident that the Mediation group scored higher than the other group on all measures regardless of all demographic variables, including computer use at home.

 

Discussion

Based on the findings of the current study it may be concluded that children interacting with adults trained to mediate in a computer environment, scored significantly higher than other children, on measures of abstract thinking, planning, vocabulary, and visuo-motor coordination, and on measures of responsiveness, including measures of reflective thinking.  The significant effect of adult mediation is enhanced by the finding that there were no differences in performance of children who worked in a computer environment with an adult available to answer their questions and others who received technical assistance only.   These findings support the hypothesis, regarding the positive effects of working in a computer environment with an adult trained to mediate.  One possible explanation, supported theoretically (Feuerstein, et al., 1979,1980) and empirically (Klein, 1996), is that basic characteristics of adult-child interactions are necessary determinents of a learning experience. Unlike direct learning through the senses, mediated learning occurs when the environment is processed for the child by a person who understands the child’s needs, interests and abilities and undertakes an active role in presenting elements of the environment to the child making it possible for the child to attend to salient aspects of stimuli, to connect and associate between experiences and to seek more information about things.  Young children’s need for adult mediation is enhance in a technological environment, which is substantially different from children’s natural milieus (Barrens & Hill, 1983; Cuffaro, 1984).  Children’s natural non-computer environments call for concrete activities with real materials and objects; in contrast, computer environments require the manipulation of pictures, graphs and symbols. One of the most basic characteristics of mediation is the active role played by the adult mediator who continuously attempts to adjust elements available in the immediate environment or beyond it, (using his own experiences) and make those compatible with the child’s needs, abilities and interests.  The probability that an experience will constitute a learning experience for a child increases when adult intervention is adapted to the specific task at hand and to the characteristics of the child’s functioning and thinking at a given time (Wachs, 1992).  The effects of adult mediation on young children in a computer learning environment, support Wachs’s conclusion as well as findings reported by Miller and Emihovich (1986) by Klein (1996) and Klein and Nir Gal (1992).  These findings demonstrate that adult mediation to children using computers enhanced the children’s abstract reasoning, analogical and reflective thinking.  It appears that the effect of mediation is greater when children are using Logo as compared to Games software.  One possible explanation for this finding could be related to the fact that Logo is an ‘open’ program presenting problems of a visual spatial nature thus ‘inviting’ spatial mediation (which was primarily provided verbally) and consequently having a more significant effect on children’s  vocabulary and visual spatial reasoning.

            No differential effects for gender, ethnic origin and parental level of educational  were found in the current study.  In other words, the intervention effected all children, regardless of demographic diversity.  Feuerstein et al., (1980) claim that “distal factors” including variables, such as genetic, physiological, cultural and social factors affect the child primarily through “proximal factors,” relating to the quality of adult-child interactions.  The latter represent the main factors explaining variability in children’s cognitive functioning.  In line with this theory, experiences, which are actively mediated by the child’s primary caregivers, have the potential to affect the child’s cognitive performance.  On the basis of the current findings, one may conclude that children’s activity with the computer, without adult mediation, does not make full use of computer technology for the benefit of children’s development in preschool years (Woodrow, 1989).

            In both the adult accompaniment and control groups, the children successfully activated computers, used “mice” fearlessly, knew their way around the keyboard and enjoyed computer games.  However, in and of itself, this activity did not effect the level of their cognitive performance or the strategies they used for problem solving. Through mediation, children learned to focus on a problem, to seek and receive, precise information (rather than being satisfied with “hazy” perceptions) to compare and contrast various perceptions and to plan before acting.  These findings coincide with the recent research review reported by Tzuriel (1999) claiming that human mediation makes it possible for preschoolers to learn how to facilitate learning from new experiences.

            Particularly interesting were the findings regarding children’s use of computers at home.  There were no differences between children who used computers at home and those who did not.  The current study did not focus on the specifics of children’s use of computers at home, but, since a large number of children were involved, it may be assumed that, there was “routine” parental guidance, performed intuitively, without the specific intent to develop thinking.  The data indicate that children who used computers at home had no advantage over those who did not use computers.  The lack of effect of children’s use of computers with no adult mediation is further supported by the finding that within a computer environment, nonmediational adult guidance is not sufficient to enhance children’s cognitive abilities.  Moreover, on the Visual Association test, children who used computers at home had lower abstract visual thinking scores as compared to others.  Computer use at home possibly effects Visual Association scores.  This could be related to the fact that the use of a computer involves games (Downes & Reddacliff, 1996), some of which resemble the Visual Association test, both visually (various pictures of objects) and operationally (the requirement to choose the appropriate picture).  On the Visual Association test, therefore, children who had used computers without mediation at home displayed the level of performance that they had internalized at home – swift work through trial-and-error, whereas children without such experiences at home, who received mediation during the intervention have learned through mediation to focus their attention, to plan carefully before acting, to associate between things etc.  Young children using computers without mediation were found more likely to get caught up in trial-and-error processes devoid of conceptualization (Samaras, 1996).  Without a teacher’s support and guidance, these children did not proceed spontaneously to use higher thinking processes (Masters & Yelland, 1996).  Apparently computer use per se does not suffice to improve children’s thinking.

            The present study isolated mediational variables, which were defined in relation to activities in a computer learning environment for preschoolers.  Isolating these variables facilitated characterization of effective instructional behaviors within computer environments.  The variables identified as essential mediational behaviors include: Focusing, Affecting, Expansion, Encouragement (mediation of feelings of competence); and Regulation of behavior.  The findings suggest that one possible way to exploit computers effectively, in order to advance preschoolers learning, is the  integration of mediating adults in the processes of teaching and learning within computer environments.  Furthermore, feedback from the teachers who participated in this study indicated that mediational training contributed to the enhancement of their teaching in areas other than those related to the use of computers.

            Educational literature and research abounds with deliberation over the question what kind of teaching advances higher levels of thinking.  Many have concluded that in order to foster cognitive skills, a change in the traditional role of the teacher, from “teacher as information source” to “teacher as guide for thinking” is required.  Such a guide must take into consideration individual characteristics and unique needs of the learner (Hawley, 1990; Levine, 1995; Passig, 1996).  This contention supports the idea that optimal use of computers for the advancement of preschooler’s thinking and learning requires the teacher to provide the child with experiences of  learning that focus on thinking processes and not just on the content or on the technology of computer programs.

            The objective of the present study was to identify the characteristics of effective instruction within preschool computer learning environments.  This study represents the first attempt to use the theory of Mediated Learning (Feurstein, et al., 1980; Klein, 1996) to identify and explain basic characteristic of adult-child mediation, as manifested in instructional behaviors within preschool computer environments.  It should be noted that the mediation model is not the only one which explains early childhood learning, in general and within a computer environment; in fact, there are other possible models that can be implemented in computerized learning environments – for example, Vygotzky’s Zone of Proximal Development, highlights the importance of adult mediation in raising children’s thinking process however, Vygotzky does not identify the processes leading to it in terms of adults behavior.  Examples of other possible theoretical orientations that could be adopted for use in a computer learning environment of young children are the cooperative learning model (Brown & Palinscar, 1989; Mevarekh, 1996) or investigative learning (Bruner, 1966).  Whereas the cooperative learning model emphasizes the importance of interaction with people who can promote a child’s thinking, and the investigative learning model stresses the importance of guided discovery to achieve cognitive goals, neither of these approaches delineates the characteristics of the development-promoting process.  A step forward in this direction can be made on the basis of Mediated Learning theory, as was done in the present study.

            Several limitations of the current study should be noted. Only three types of adult guidance were compared.  It is possible that other forms of guidance, perhaps those based on other theoretical orientations (i.e. cognitive processing or learning theories) may be affective in enhancing children’s learning in a computer learning environment.  It is also possible that specific interactions involving type of program and type of guidance could be found in studies comparing programs other than Logo and games.  The Children in this study received adult guidance over a period of 17 weeks.  The effects of this intervention were assessed immediately following the intervention.  There is, however, no information as to its long term effects or regarding the effects of longer intervention periods.

            Identifying characteristics of effective instructional behavior within a computer learning environment is an important research objective that could help in defining  required changes in teacher’s roles within such a setting, from “teacher as information source” to “teacher as guide and mediator of thinking”.  Such a change demands further research that will clarify  teacher’s roles in technological environments designed for preschoolers.

 

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This study was supported in part by the I.B. Harris Foundation and by the Machado Chair for Research on Cognitive Modifiability


Table 1

Definitions and Examples of Basic Criteria of Mediation

                                                                       

Definition of Criteria

Examples

Focusing (Intentionality and reciprocity)  Any act or sequence of acts of an adult that appears to be directed toward affecting a child’s perception or behavior.  These behaviors are considered reciprocal when the infant or child responds vocally, verbally or nonverbally.

Selecting, exaggerating, accentuation, scheduling, grouping, sequencing, or pacing stimuli.  Talking or hanging a toy to a child is seen as intentionality and reciprocity only when it is apparent that the adult’s behavior is intentional and not accidental, and when there is an observable response from the child that he or she saw or heard the intentional behavior.  Examples of intentionality might include a parent making a visible effort to change his or her behavior and the environment by (a) bringing an object to the child, moving it back and forth, observing the child and continuing to adjust the stimulus until he or she focuses on it; (b) by moving a bottle or a particular food item in front of the infants eyes until he or she focuses on it; (c)  placing toys in the bath water; (d) placing oneself in front of the child to obtain eye-to-eye contact; (e) placing objects in front of the child at a distance requiring that he or she will attempt to reach them.

 

Affecting (exciting) 

An adult’s behavior that expresses verbal or nonverbal excitement, appreciation, or affect, in relation to objects, animals, concepts or values.

These behaviors may include facial gestures or paralinguistic expressions (e.g., a sigh or scream of surprise), verbal expressions of affect, classification or labeling, and expressions of valuation of the child’s or adult’s experience (e.g., “Look, I am washing your foot not”, “See how long this macaroni is?”, “Look at this beautiful flower”, or “This cup is special, it belongs to grandfather”.

 

Expanding (transcendence) 

An adult's behavior directed toward the expansion of a child’s cognitive awareness, beyond what is necessary to satisfy the immediate need that triggered the interaction.

Talking to a child about the qualities of food during feeding is beyond what is necessary to assure provision of nutrition; exploring body parts or the characteristics of water during bathing is not necessary for bathing. Transcendence may be

(table 1 continues)

 

provided through expressions implying inductive and deductive reasoning, spontaneous comparisons, clarification of spatial and temporal orientation, noting strategies for short-and-long-term memory or search and recall memory activities.

 

Encouraging (mediated feelings of competence)

Any verbal or nonverbal behavior of an adult that expresses satisfaction with a child’s behavior and that identifies a specific component or components of the child’s behavior that the adult considers contributive to the experience of success. 

Such identification can be achieved, for example, by careful timing of a verbal or gesture expression of satisfaction, through repetition of a desired behavior, or through verbal and nonverbal expression (i.e., saying “good”, “wonderful”, “great”, “yes”, or clapping hands and smiling when the child successfully completes a task or part of it).  

 

Regulating (mediated regulation of behavior)

Adult behaviors that model, demonstrate, and/or verbally suggest to the child regulation of behavior in relation to the specific requirements of a task, or to any other cognitive process required prior to overt action.

Behavior is regulated on a mediation basis by the process of matching the task requirements with the child’s capacities and interests, as well as through organizing and sequencing steps leading toward success.  For example, “It is hot, cool it first before putting it in your mouth”, “Let’s wash your face carefully, so that no soap will get into your eyes”, “Slowly! Not so hard! It is delicate, do it gently”, or “First, turn all the pieces over, then search for the right piece”. Mediated regulation of behavior may be related to the processes of perception (e.g., systematic exploration), to the process of elaboration (e.g., planning behavior), or to the process of expressive behavior (e.g., reducing egocentric expressions and regulating intensity and speed of behavior).  

 


Table 2    Examples of training activities for teachers in the mediation group (using Logo).
 
           
Target Process                                                                       Examples____________
Focusing

 

    “Look at this line, look carefully, do

    see what happens to it?”

Focusing on the Problem
“Let us see, what do we need to do here?”  “How can we draw the line using this turtle”.
Affecting
“Wow, isn’t this beautiful?”  “Look what happens when you move the turtle”.  “This is a very special program.”
 
Expanding

 

 
 
 
Multidirectional ways for problem solving
 
 
Raising awareness of thinking process

 

 

 

 

Predicting outcome

(Raising hypothesis)

 

    Associating what was learned with

    other experiences.  Raising questions

    such as: which other experiences

    require planning before doing   

    something? Why?

 

   “How else can you draw this form?”

   “Which is the easiest way to it?” Why?

 

“How do you know that this is the right way?” 

“You remembered all these things.”  Careful thinking about all possibilities helped you choose the correct answer”. “Remember what you just did?” “Keep it in mind, do not forget!”

 

 

“What will happen if you move the turtle up than to the left”?  “What will happen if….”?

 

 

 

 

 

Regulating Behavior
Control and evaluation of response

 

 

 

Controlled use of the keyboard

 

Planning

“What does the computer tell you?”  Is it correct? How can you tell?

“How do you know that you did well?”

“What did you learn from this mistake?”

“Press the key intermittently so that

you could control the lines you make with the turtle”.

“When you press the keys be careful so that the turtle will not escape”.

 

 

“Let us see what we need to do in order to draw a square, we need to move the turtle up, than to the left, down, and to the right”.

Encouraging
Clarifying success
“Very good, you did it well, you were careful and planned it well”.

“Good, how did you do it?”

“What did you do to get this beautiful square?”

Coping with failure

“What does the computer tell us now?”  “Yes, it is incorrect, but you could do it again”. “Let us see, what could it be?  Where is the mistake?”

“How can we correct it?”

 

 

 

 



Table 3

Means, Standard Deviations and F Statistics of all Cognitive Measures of Children

in Three Treatment Groups using Logo and Computer Games

 

 

 

Type

of

Treatment

 

 

 

F 

for

Cognitive

 

 

Mediating

adult

Accomp.

Adult

Control

 

Group

Groupx

software

Measures

software

 

before

after

 Before

    After

before

after

ªtime

ªtime

RAVEN

Logo

Mean

11.4

23.4

14.6

20.0

15.5

19.0

68.82**

6.23*

Matrices

 

SD

3.6

4.7

3.5

5.5

4.9

5.0

 

 

 

Games

Mean

14.6

25.6

13.6

18.7

12.8

19.4

 

 

 

 

SD

3.1

2.8

3.0

4.3

3.4

4.5

 

 

ITPA

Logo

Mean

15.6

24.0

18.0

22.8

19.6

22.8

36.84**

 

Vis.

 

SD

3.9

4.3

2.7

3.0

2.8

3.6

 

 

Assoc.

Games

Mean

18.6

26.3

19.1

23.2

20.5

23.9

 

 

 

 

SD

3.0

3.7

3.6

3.1

3.3

4.1

 

 

WPPSI

Logo

Mean

11.1

19.6

12.9

18.4

12.4

16.0

23.82**

 

Similarities

 

SD

2.7

4.2

3.0

3.8

2.3

3.0

 

 

 

Games

Mean

11.6

20.2

12.5

16.8

12.2

17.2

 

 

 

 

SD

3.0

3.1

3.8

4.6

2.4

3.2

 

 

WPPSI

Logo

Mean

13.9

26.4

16.8

23.3

17.0

23.7

24.48**

 

Mazes

 

SD

5.4

4.5

5.1

3.7

5.9

4.2

 

 

 

Games

Mean

15.6

25.9

17.9

23.2

17.6

25.0

 

 

 

 

SD

4.3

3.6

4.7

4.7

5.3

4.6

 

 

WPPSI

Logo

Mean

11.9

23.9

17.1

20.5

16.9

20.9

36.81**

 

 

 

SD

5.0

3.4

4.8

6.2

6.4

4.1

 

 

Vocabulary

Games

Mean

13.0

24.6

16.4

21.3

13.9

22.3

 

 

 

 

SD

4.5

3.0

5.9

4.6

5.2

4.3

 

 

PEABODY

Logo

Mean

10.6

19.0

12.7

16.6

11.0

16.7

23.61**

 

Picture.

 

SD

2.9

2.0

3.2

3.5

3.6

3.6

 

 

Vocabulary

Games

Mean

12.4

19.4

14.4

18.0

12.3

16.4

 

 

Test (PPVT)

 

SD

2.9

2.6

3.5

2.7

4.0

3.7

 

 

BEERY

Logo

Mean

51.0

74.4

50.8

65.3

49.2

63.8

18.78**

 

Motor

 

SD

13.5

15.5

11.2

14.7

10.3

13.3

 

 

Integ.

Games

Mean

45.0

68.9

53.1

67.0

49.9

63.9

 

 

 

 

SD

8.8

11.5

10.6

13.3

10.3

13.0

 

 

**        p<.001

 *         p<.05

 

Table 4

Reflectiveness levels, (means and standard deviations) before and after intervention, for the three groups.

 

 

Adult

mediation

 

Adult accompaniment

 

No Adult

assistance

 

 

 

 

before

after

 

before

after

 

before

after

 

F(2,137)

Response-time for

X

2.80

4.80

 

3.66

3.44

 

4.01

3.69

 

11.16*

Difficult

Test items

SD

1.11

1.89

 

1.15

1.02

 

1.19

1.17

 

 

Response-time for

X

2.34

3.90

 

3.31

3.08

 

3.40

3.46

 

23.78*

Easy

Test items

SD

  .81

1.12

 

1.17

  .98

 

  .85

1.17

 

 

* p < .001