Die invloed van die denkontwikkeling en ander kognitiewe faktore op die stelwerk van standerd ses–leerlinge
Mans, Isak Johannes Visser
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The aim of this study is to investigate the role played by the cognitive factors thought, language and creativity, and to determine the relative influence of these factors on the marks given to compositions. The study is based on the views and theories of Piaget. As point of departure the concept "thought" is explained in order to determine what is meant by thought development. Piaget's classification of thought development in the four phases, namely sensorimotor, pre-operational, concrete operational and formal operational is discussed briefly. The last two phases, with which this study is mainly concerned, are discussed in detail and compared with each other in order to gain a clear concept of the typical thought patterns of the junior secondary pupil. In short it amounts to the following: 1. Concrete operational thinkers cannot solve problems in verbal form, but they are, contrary to formal operational thinkers, restricted to perceptual matters in solving problems. 2. Concrete operational thinkers' way of verifying propositions and allegations is based exclusively on concrete information, while formal operational thinkers come to logical conclusions through reasoning. 3. Concrete operational thinkers lack the ability to go back to the starting point of an abstract problem. They cannot envisage a problem. 4. The pre-adolescent finds it difficult to follow socially accepted behaviour patterns consistently, mainly because he does not take other people's viewpoints into consideration. 5. The concrete operational thinker is subjective in his attitude and seldom considers all the aspects of matter. 6. Pupils in the concrete operational phase are able to understand the relationship between concrete matters such as length and weight, but they are unable to understand concepts such as space, speed and distance before they have reached the formal operational level. 7. Concrete operational thinkers find it difficult to compare ideas and to come to logical conclusions. 8. Concrete operational thinkers cannot classify ideas and concepts. 9. Pupils on the concrete operational level are limited to the conservation of quantity, weight and volume, that is concrete aspects, while formal operational thinkers are able to conserve aspects such as movement. 10. Only formal operational thinkers can see implications in words, sentences, ideas and thoughts. 11. The concrete operational thinkers are more than formal operational thinkers inclined to think about their own thoughts. Subsequently the relationship between thought and language is discussed. The nature and the substance of language are reviewed: The theories of Piaget, Vygotsky, Bruner and Chomsky are discussed in detail and their views on the relationship between language and thought are summarised. Next a synopsis is given of the language development of the junior secondary pupil. This indicates that there is a close relationship between language and thought and that thought is the determining factor. Although it is possible for a human being to think without language, these thoughts are restricted to the concrete. As soon as concepts become abstract, language is indispensable to thought because language is the vehicle for abstract concepts. The problem of creativity and the relationship between thought and creativity and language and creativity are then discussed. The conclusion arrived at is that there is a close relationship between thought and creativity. Creativity is in reality a particular form of thought. Thinking problems will definitely be reflected in creativity. There is also a direct relationship between language and creativity and creativity demands a high degree of language competency. The concepts "creative language" and "creative writ1ngll are elucidated. The possible factors that may influence creativity are considered. Lastly the incidence of creativity among junior secondary pupils is discussed. The conclusion arrived at is that creativity is a complex phenomenon. It is a quality that occurs universally and is present in all individuals. Subsequently the relationship between thought, language and creativity was considered as well as errors occurring in written composition. Clarity was gained as to what written composition exactly entails. Two main kinds of composition have been distinguished, namely concrete and abstract compositions. The general errors occurring in written composition were analysed and elucidated and a relationship was sought between these errors and the cognitive abilities of the pupils. It was found that errors in word usage, syntax, context, presentation, selection of material and paragraphing probably stem from certain thought, language and creative problems. The conclusion is that the junior secondary pupil is subject to certain "deficiencies" that make it difficult for him to write certain types of essays. Next an analysis was made of the Afrikaans First Language syllabus for standards 5, 6 and 7 to determine to what extent the requirements of the syllabus tax pupils too severely. The deduction was made that some of the requirements of the syllabus in respect of thought development can only be executed at formal operational level. The syllabus requires that pupils should be able to • think abstractly • reason deductively • generate ideas through visualisation • make classifications on an abstract level. Unrealistic demands are also made in respect of language. The pupils are expected to use language at a operational level, regardless of their stage of language development. As far as creativity is concerned the syllabus does not appear to make unreasonable demands. It is left to the teacher to decide how much he can expect of each individual pupil in the way of creativity. On the whole it does, however, appear that demands made by the syllabus are in some respects unrealistic. From the information gleaned, the following inferences are made, in terms of a general hypothesis: The quality of a written composition is determined by typical errors in word usage, syntax, context, presentation, selection of material, paragraphing and handling of the topics. These errors are directly or indirectly the result of thought and language deficiencies. According to their nature these errors can be divided into two groups, namely language errors and errors of thought. Creativity does not result in errors but largely determine the quality of the language used. The following general hypothesis was therefore formulated: there is a relationship between the mark allocated to a composition and the creativity, language ability and the level of thought development of pupils. To test the validity of this hypothesis experiments involving shortly the following were conducted: Three hundred subjects were chosen from Afrikaans speaking pupils in standard six in the Western Transvaal by using randomized stratified sampling. They were proportionally chosen to represent the ordinary and the practical courses. They consisted of eight classes doing the ordinary course and two classes doing the practical course. Due to the fact that some of the subjects were absent during a part of the test, and that all the data were not available, the data of only 239 subjects were used. The level of thought development of each subject was tested by means of a group test measuring the thought level attained. This test was developed by the author in co-operation with the promotor of this study and other students. This test was based on Piaget-type questions. The subjects' creativity was tested by means of the Torrance Tests of Creative thinking. The verbal and nonverbal IQ’s were obtained from the Ed.Lab.Cards of the subjects. The test used for determining the IQ was the New South African Group Test (NSAGT). In addition, each subject had to complete a questionnaire on which he/she inter alia had to indicate his/her sex, age, number of schools attended (mobility) and the course he/she is taking. From this questionnaire the subject’s socioeconomic status was determined. Every subject had to write two compositions, one on a concrete and one on an abstract topic. The topics were the following: 1. "Give a good description of the sketch on this page (see annexure D). Imagine that you are looking at a real scene. Don’t write a story. It doesn't matter how much you write, but try not to exceed one page." 2. "Have a nice chat about friendship. Don't write a Story about friendship. It doesn't matter how much. You write but try not to exceed one page.” In both cases marks were allocated to Content/Style, Spelling/Punctuation, Language/Idiom and Total. The marking was based on the system generated by E.L.G. Schnell. The mark for Content/Style was obtained from a 6 X B point scale matrics. Spelling/Punctuation and Language/ Idiom are two components of Language Correctness. Marks were allocated by determining mistakes in each of the two components. One mark was deducted for each mistake in Spelling/Punctuation to a maximum of 10 marks and three marks were deducted for each mistake in Language/Idiom to a maximum of 30 marks. Total represents the sum of the three components. The validity and reliability of each of the measuring devices were discussed and it was found that they were valid and reliable in all cases. Multiple regression analysis was used to analyse the data. Statistics which have been obtained from this programme are • correlation matrices • regression equations • multiple correlation coefficients squared (R2). The primary aim with this investigation was to determine the influence of thought, language and creativity on a composition. It has been decided to include the following independent variables in the first few analyses: socioeconomic status, age, course taken by the pupil, sex, mobility and non-verbal IQ. These factors are included because they supply a framework for reference against which the influence of thought, language and creativity can be gauged. They were used as "control variables." An analysis of the data gives the following results: 1. The independent variables mutually influence the writing of compositions, but some have greater influence than others. 2. Pupils' level of thought has influence on the writing of compositions, which means that concrete operational thinkers might find it difficult to write about abstract topics. 3. Language ability also determines the composition mark, owing to the close relationship between thought and language. 4. Creativity has influence on the writing of compositions although not to a very great extent. 5. Certain dependent variables are better explained by the independent variables than others. The following percentages indicate the variance in the dependent variables which are explained by the independent variables: • Content/Style: concrete composition: 44 per cent abstract composition: 41 per cent • Spelling/Punctuation: concrete composition: 9 per cent abstract composition: 12 per cent • Language/Idiom concrete composition: 18 per cent abstract composition: 21 per cent • Total concrete composition: 38 per cent abstract composition: 35 per cent. The data show that the variance in Content/Style and Total is best explained by the' independent variables, Language/Idiom to a smaller extent and Spelling/Punctuation is least explained by the independent variables. 6. The influence of the independent variables is slightly more on the concrete than on the abstract composition. 7. The contribution of the level of thought, language ability and creativity to the variance in the dependent variables, differs mutually. There is a small difference between the influence of the level of thought and language ability, but the difference in the influence of level of thought and creativity and language ability and creativity is greater. In short it can be said that the level of thought, the language ability and creativity have influence on the writing of a composition. Admittedly there are other factors too which have influence, but we are satisfied that these three factors have a determining influence. As a result of these findings the following proposals are made: 1. The syllabus must be revised to make provision for exercises to develop the pupils' thinking ability, to give guidance concerning the kind of topics that should be given and to give guidance on the marking of the compositions. 2. Guidance should be given on the teaching methods and ways to develop pupils' creativity. 3. Further investigation should be done concerning tests measuring the development of thought and also to determine the exact relationship between the errors found in compositions and the thought and language deficiencies of pupils.
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