An Investigation into the effect of gender or having a sibling on knowledge of developmental norms in children. Abstract In this investigation, the independent variable (IV) was whether the participant was male or female, and if they had any siblings. The dependant variable (DV) was their recorded knowledge of developmental norms in children, measured by their score on a questionnaire asking what age on average each stage occurs at. Three hypotheses were tested which were all one-tailed: 1.
Females will have a significantly better knowledge of developmental norms than males. 2. Participants with younger siblings will have a significantly greater knowledge of developmental norms than those with older siblings or non at all. 3. Participants with siblings will have a significantly better knowledge of developmental norms than those without. The participants involved were 73 first year psychology students comprising of 12 males and 61 females, 5 of which were an only child and 40 of which had younger siblings.
Identical questionnaires were administered to all participants and the information collected was used to test all three hypotheses. The results gathered supported, in all three instances, the null rather than the experimental hypothesis. Neither females, nor those with any siblings or specifically younger siblings had significantly better knowledge on developmental norms than the other conditions. However, despite not proving statistically significant, the results did show trends in the directions predicted in hypotheses 1 and 2.
Introduction It is important to study development as without devising developmental ‘norms’ (i. e. a universally accepted ‘normal’ age for a child to be able to complete a particular task) children with developmental disorders such as autism or learning difficulties would not be diagnosed until much later on in life. Additionally it helps put parents’ minds at rest knowing that they’re child is progressing at the correct speed and will be able to identify the further help required if this is not the case.
Therefore ways of testing children in order to identify or test these norms must be developed. One way to do this is through intelligence tests, the first of which was created in 1905 by Binet in order to identify children who would benefit from additional education. In 1921 Stern developed the concept of intelligence quotient (IQ) from this idea which is now the most common form of assessment. This created a standardised system to compare both children and adults to the ‘average’ or ‘norm’ for their age group.
Some IQ tests work on two scales, a verbal scale and a performance scale (according to the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children). The verbal requires the child to complete tasks of general information, comprehension, arithmetic etc, and the performance requires them to code, match symbols and so on. This means all aspects of development and reasoning can be assessed to identify the problem (if there is one) as accurately as possible. Therefore a good knowledge of these norms is essential in the rearing of children to ensure early signs of learning difficulties etc are not overlooked.
Subsequently, it could be safe to assume that females will have more of an innate knowledge of these due to a maternal instinct and it will be this that is tested. Additionally being around children in a family environment may also acquaint a person with the norms as they will have seen children growing up. This may be the case with people with brothers and sister, younger or older and so these are also being tested. The hypotheses being tested in this investigation are: 1. Females will have a significantly better knowledge of developmental norms than males.
2. Participants with younger siblings will have a significantly greater knowledge of developmental norms than those with older siblings or non at all. 3. Participants with siblings will have a significantly better knowledge of developmental norms than those without. The aim of this experiment is to see what factors affect how much the participant knows on the topic of child development, through asking them at what age a child can complete specific tasks in accordance with the norms collected by the means mentioned above. Method Participants
There were 73 participants used for this study. There were 12 males and 61 females in reference to hypothesis 1, 5 participants without siblings at all and 68 with siblings in reference to hypothesis 2, and for hypothesis 3 there were 40 participants with younger siblings and 33 without. They were all first year psychology students in Exeter University and were selected by their attendance of a practical class. They were assigned to the conditions by their gender and the presence of siblings as answered on the questionnaire. All questionnaires were included in the results.
Apparatus The only apparatus used was a questionnaire on the developmental norms of children, comprising of 33 questions such as “When are children able to hop on one leg? “. Questions 1-32 were based on the norms taken from the writings of Griffiths and question 33 was taken from a 1994 monograph by Fenton et al (see references). A cover sheet was attached to provide standardised instructions on how to answer the questions, what they will be on and how it will be scored to ensure confusion and misunderstandings will not be extraneous variables.
Procedure The questionnaire was administered to all participants at the same time, and they were given as much time as required to complete it. They were then scored according to whether their answer fell into the age range dictated by the previous research mentioned above. The answers were collated and allocated to one condition of each hypothesis being tested according to the appropriate factor (e. g. if they answered ‘yes’ to having a younger sibling).