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Title:Pertinent Interviewing Technique in an Investigation of Lag in Conservation of Number Among Black American Children
Author(s):Nicholson, Theodore Roosevelt, Sr.
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Bilingual and Multicultural
Abstract:Piaget's clinical interview method was used to investigate a possible lag in conservation of number among black children with low-socioeconomic status (low-SES) who lived in urban areas. Data were collected in 1972 on 44 black American children in grades one though three who attended Bonner Elementary School (BES) located in Daytona Beach, Florida. In 1979, interviews were completed with 44 black American children in grades kindergarten through three who attended Steuben School (SS) located in Kankakee, Illinois. The data collected from the children at the SS employed newly developed interview techniques not used with the children at the BES in 1972. Piaget revised his theory in 1975 and introduced some new experiments designed by B. Inhelder that utilized the concept of commutability. This concept was utilized in some of the tasks developed by Jack Easley and his associates and administered to the SS children.
The original plan (in 1972) of this study was to collect data from urban black children and compare those data with Millie Almy's data (1966) collected from low-socioeconomic children from upper Manhattan, New York, (Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and black) and middle class (MC) white children from Brooklyn, New York. However, upon comparison of the data collected from BES and SS, the original purpose of the study was shifted to include a study of why BES lagged so far behind SS in conservation of number performance when both groups were of similar cultural backgrounds. Studying this difference led to an investigation of interview techniques. The superior performance of the SS subjects, as compared with the BES, and the lower-class subjects of Almy's study suggested a comparison of results among the three studies.
The task administered to all subjects was the spread-block task. Other tasks relating to conservation of number were administered to the SS subjects only. The comparisons were made on the results of the spread-blocks task, but the SS children were so successful on the other tasks administered to them that suspicion was cast upon the interviewing technique used on the BES in 1972. In sixteen interviews of SS subjects on conservation of number using compact rows of blocks and moving blocks from one end to the other, two subjects showed improvement over the spread-blocks task. This suggested that many subjects may possess simultaneously structures for both conservation and nonconservation.
The findings showed the BES lagging about three grades behind the MC and the BES lagging about two grades behind the SS (with a statistical significance of .01). Further analysis of the interview technique suggested that: (1) the new techniques used in Kankakee and Geneva placed suspicion on the earlier data collected in Daytona Beach. If the data collected in Daytona Beach (and Almy's study in New York as well) are classified as inconclusive, we cannot report a lag in conservation of number. On the contrary, the author of this study concludes that many of the results of studies made prior to 1974 are inconclusive; (2) the new experiments used in Kankakee (as well as Geneva, cf. Inhelder et al., 1975) provoked the commutability schema in many children who would otherwise have been determined as nonconservers, causing an increase in the number of conservers; (3) it seems clear that many other researchers must have reported conservers as nonconservers and were unaware that their clinical interviewing was incomplete because of inadequate probing; and (4) many researchers are unaware of the effect of the nonconserving racing schema upon children's thinking.
Issue Date:1981
Description:276 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1981.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8127657
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-12
Date Deposited:1981

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