Children's performance on piagetian tasks of conservation effects of presenting task in Kikuyu and/or English language.
Njubi, Gladwell Njeri
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The role of language in cognitive development is a question that has not yet been definitively answered. Language, however, is used to assess cognitive development. Piagetian tasks of conservation are widely used to assess cognitive development. These tasks are heavily reliant on language. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of language of presentation on children's performance on Piagetian tasks of conservation. A static group comparison design was used. Children were tested in Kikuyu and English language. A sample of 40 standard pupils ranging in age from eleven to twelve years was studied. These children attended two rural primary schools in Kiambu District. The subjects were randomly assigned to four treatment groups. Children were assessed in conservation of mass, weight and volume. Each of these areas of conservation was assessed using four distinctly different tasks, Treatment in the four groups varied in reference to the language of presentation of the four tasks. In one group the four tasks were presented in Kikuyu. The second group had all the four tasks presented in English. The other two groups had some of the tasks presented in English and others in Kikuyu to reflect the situation found in most Kenyan classrooms. Five hypotheses were tasted. Non-parametric statistical procedures were used to test these hypotheses. Four of these hypotheses were statistically significant at 0.5 level of significance. The main findings of this study were that the language of presentation of tasks did not affect children's performance on Piagetian tasks of conservation before the area of conservation in question was acquired. However language in which tasks were presented an influence on children's performance when the conservation area under investigation was acquired. The language of presentation of tasks also had an influence on the mode of reasoning employed by children on the acquired areas of conservation. It is also found out that the types of reasons given for conservation by children were of variable prevalence. The findings of this study did not support the work of Piaget. These findings raise questions out about Piagetian assumption that cognitive development is not dependent on language. Language is an important factor to consider, therefore, when assessing children's cognitive development using Piagetian tasks of conservation. These findings led to a suggestion that more research should be carried out in order to establish the role of language on cognitive development.