|Abstract or Summary
- Results of recent studies on Piagetian cognitive development,
though equivocal, showed that the architectonic of formal operational
schemata is not possessed by a sizeable percentage (up to 52%) of adolescents
and young adults. The purpose of the present study is two
fold: (i) To assess the cognitive levels of a sample of prospective
elementary teachers, and (ii) To investigate which of ten independent
variables were most highly correlated with, and useful in explaining
performance on five Piagetian formal tasks.
The independent variables examined were: age, attitude toward
science, attitude toward science teaching, high school GPA, college
GPA, Scholastic Aptitude Test (Verbal and Quantitative), Sequential
Test of Educational Progress (Science Series II, Form IA), Science-
Product and the total number of binary operations (logical operators) which are isomorphic with the INRC transformations. The criterion
variable was performance on five Piagetian tasks requiring the following
strategies for their successful solutions: elimination of contradiction,
operations of exclusion, reciprocal implication, combinatorial
logic, and syllogistic reasoning. Data were collected through paperpencil
tests, individual interview, and from the subjects' high school
and college transcripts.
The sample consisted of 44 prospective elementary teachers who
were sophomores enrolled in "Educational Theory and Practicum", the
second (theory) phase of a sophomore-block in education at Oregon State
University. The ages of the six males and 38 females ranged from 19
to 30 years with a mean age of 21.6 years. The study was conducted
over a period of five weeks during the spring term of the 1975-76 academic
year. Pearson product moment correlation coefficient, t-test, and
a stepwise technique of multiple regression analysis were employed to
evaluate (i) the degree of relationships, (ii) the differences in the
mean scores on Piagetian tasks of low and high SCI-PROD subjects, and
(iii) which of the predictor variables accounted for how much of the
variance on the criterion variable.
Sixty-eight percent of the subjects were formal operational. No
significant relationship was found between ATS, ATST or SAT-V and
scores on Piagetian tasks. Significant relationships (p < .01) were
found between STEP-SCI, SCI-PROD, SAT-Q and scores on Piagetian tasks. A significant difference (p < .10) was found between high and low subjects
with respect to SCI-PROD and mean scores on the Piagetian tasks.
The ten predictor variables accounted for 40 percent of the variance
in performance on the five Piagetian tasks.
Incidence of formal operations was not universal among the subjects.
Both concrete and formal operational strategies co-existed and
were applied differentially depending on the nature of the tasks. Subjects
who exhibited concrete operational strategies in response to one
task were also often capable of the rigorous hypothetico-deductive
approach in reponse to a different task.
Instructional materials for prospective elementary teachers should
be designed to promote a balance between accommodation (conformity to
the environment, i.e. concrete operations) and assimilation (transformation
of the environment, i.e. formal operations). These materials
should be sequenced within the rubrics of multiple concretisation and
multisensory approaches. Both the materials and the approaches should
mirror the variable but definite proportions of concrete to formal
operational students in the learning situation.