An approach to diagnosing learning disabilities within a Piagetian framework
Wember, Franz Bernd
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The hypothesis that learning disabled children are delayed in cognitive development and Piagetfs theory of horizontal decalage were tested. Forty-five learning disabled and forty-five non-disabled students, 15 each in the age groups 7-8 years, 9-10 years, and 11-12 years, were tested on conservation of number, liquid, weight, and volume. The assessment procedures varied from Piaget1s classical pro- cedures in that the relevant stimulus dimension was expressed verbally for every task. Correct judgment only was employed as criterion for the presence of the conservation concept. An analysis of variance re- vealed a highly significant (p .001) main effect for the age factor only but no interaction effects and no main effect for the learning disability variable. Scalogram analyses showed a high degree of reversals from the horizontal decalage. The importance of methodology in conservation assessment was discussed, since both results were inconsistent with previous findings. Forty percent of the young learning disabled children were found to be on a preoperational stage of cognitive functioning. In light of that, a possible explanation for early failure in school was presented. Possible merits of further assessments with Piagetian tests were discussed. It was concluded that definite statements about the cognitive status of learning disabled children cannot be drawn before methodological problems are solved and before a broader data base is available.
- Education - Seattle