Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Dynamic Testing and Cognitive Flexibility

What is the relationship between outcomes of dynamic testing and cognitive flexibility in young children?

Femke Stad

This study aims to answer the question: in what way is the learning potential of children related to cognitive flexibility? Cognitive flexibility plays a key role in the speed and accuracy of children when it comes to taking other perspectives, or adjusting to changing needs, rules and tasks. There is an increase in studies into the development of cognitive flexibility amongst young children, but only little is known about the relation between cognitive flexibility and children’s learning potential. 

Primary school children from the third, fourth and fifth grade participate in this study. Cognitive flexibility is measured by means of a short sorting task, the Modified Wisconsin Card Sorting Task (M-WCST). In addition, the children are asked to complete a serial reasoning task, an alternative version of the test used in the TagTile projects.

This task, consisting of a pretest, two short training sessions and a posttest, provides an indication of the learning potential of children. During the training sessions, the children receive protocolled help in the form of feedback and hints, when needed only. These hints vary from general, metacognitive hints to step-by-step explanations of the task to be solved. This method, the ‘graduated prompts’ approach enables us to give an indication of the extent to which children benefit from help, and which types of hint or instruction they benefit from most. In addition, teachers are asked to evaluate the children’s school performance and learning potential. This method enables us to compare the children’s performance on the dynamic test with the children’s school performance.
The main aim of the study is to provide insight into the extent to which the children’s cognitive flexibility influences their performance on the dynamic reasoning task. This will enable us to research in which manner the children’s cognitive potential is related to their level of cognitive flexibility. 

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