Four- and six-year-olds were asked questions about hypothetical situations in which a child was to perform one of three cognitive activities: (1) to remember something, (2) to communicate a message, or (3) to attend to a visual array. Questions focused on the child's understanding of the following four facts about the variables under study: (1) that it is easier to cognize about a shorter than a longer list (length), (2) that it is easier to cognize in the absence of noise than in its presence (noise), (3) that an adult or older child will find a cognitive problem to be easier than will a younger child (age), and (4) that it is generally easier to cognize with more time than with less time (time). Results indicated that the pattern of understanding was the same across the different cognitive activities, that there was a higher level of accuracy in answering questions about length and noise than about age and time, and that, over all, the 6-year-olds were more accurate than the 4-year-olds.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded in part by the Wisconsin Research and Development Center for Cognitive Learning, supported in part as a research and development center by funds from the National Institute of Education. The opinions herein do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the National Institute of Education and no official endorsement by the National Institute of Education should be inferred. We are grateful to the staff and students of a number of Madison area schools who wished to remain anonymous. A small grant from the Spencer Foundation to the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education also supported some of the activities. Send reprint requests to Steven R. Yussen, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706.