Adults knowledge of developmental norms

Many testing techniques have been developed in order to establish developmental norms and to measure the changing abilities of children as they mature e. g. Welscher Intelligence Scales, I. Q. Tests. They are particularly useful when it comes to recognising developmental problems in children. The purpose of this study was to investigate adults knowledge of developmental norms. Undergraduate psychology students (N= 71) were given a questionnaire asking for ages at which infants can complete certain acts, the hypotheses predicted female participants or those with younger sibling would have a enhanced knowledge of developmental norms.

The independent variables were the sex and whether or not the participant had siblings, the dependent variable was the total score on the questionnaire. Findings were inconsistent with the hypotheses, the possibility of these results being attributable to the various limitations of this study were then discussed. The relevant use of this knowledge at particular stages in our lives was noted as an important factor when querying the results. Developmental norms are central when it comes to understanding our development, more specifically in this study, the development of children.

Developmental norms can act as a dependable guideline when considering childrens’ development. Obviously each child is unique and there is no specific age at which they must be able to do certain things, but without these blueprints many children may have serious development related problems with the parents (or teachers) having no idea there is an abnormality. Developmental norms can therefore help these children receive the help they need to live a normal and fulfilling life. Perhaps more commonly, norms also provide reassurance for parents that there child is developing as they should be.

It is imperative to remember normal is an indefinable term, the ‘normal’ child can not merely be described as talking at 3 years, walking at 18 months etc. Developmental norms, although incredibly valuable, are still just guidelines. If the child is marginally outside the norm it is unlikely to affect them in the long term. Previous research and literature focuses on establishing these age ranges for developmental norms rather than testing our knowledge for them. Development takes place in a number of ways, for example, cognitive (mental), language, social and motor (physical) development.

Some existing tests used to assess development are: the Bayley Scale of Infant development (BSID), The British Picture Vocabulary Scale (BPVS), British Ability scales (BAS) and more widely known IQ tests, they range from measuring just one area of development to measuring numerous areas. These tests are useful when it comes to developmental norms as results are standardized over large samples to specific age ranges, and individual children can be compared to the norm. Evidently there is then an age range which is considered ‘normal’ and if a child is significantly below the norm psychological intervention would be appropriate.

In order to clarify how these assessment techniques are used to produce developmental norms I will explain a few. The Bayley Scale of Infant development assesses children between 1 year and 3 ? years, the questions given vary depending on the age of the child. The test consists of three complimentary scales: the Mental scale, Motor scale and Behaviour Rating Scale (BRS). The mental scale is designed to assess social skills, intelligence skills, memory problem solving etc, the Motor scale assesses control of muscle groups, e. g. Running, crawling jumping movements.

The BRS in contrast is present to assess the childs behaviour during the testing situation, therefore facilitating interpretation of the mental and motor scales. For each completed question the child is given 1 credit. Another widely used test is an I. Q. Test, the Welscher Intelligence Scale for Children, (WISC) designed for 6 – 16 year olds. The controversy surrounding I. Q. Tests is defining intelligence, psychologists have yet to agree on this. This is important as it affects the compiling of the test question, the conclusion has been to divide intelligence into two general abilities as described next.

The scales measured in the WISC are verbal and performance scales, each of these incorporating subscales assessing childrens intelligence on different dimensions. E. g. the arithmetic, vocabulary and digit span are subscales of the verbal scale and mazes, picture completion being subscales of the performance scale. The tasks take the form ’children are required to explain a series of increasingly difficult words’ or ’ Children must indicate whether a pair of symbols is present in a row of symbols. ’ This type of test is particularly useful as it shows how particular intellectual abilities change with time.

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