# Measuring And Determining A Childs Ability To Concentrate Education Essay

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During our research we let the children do the test (with the compartments and cubes) three times; once among ordinary circumstances, once with a visual stimuli and once with an auditory stimuli. For every child during every test we measured the time the child needed to do and finish the test. We measured this time with a stopwatch.

We started measuring the time when we had counted from three to one, so the child had to start the test. We stopped measuring the time when the child had put the last cube in the last compartment. We used the time we measured to determine a child's ability to concentrate as follows:

First of all, we separated the results of children with a delayed development from the results of regular primary school children. We put the times we measured from regular primary school children in the first table. This table consists of four columns; one that shows the child's number, one that shows the time in seconds a child needed to finish the task among ordinary circumstances, one with the influence of a visual stimuli and one with the influence of an auditory stimuli.

After that, we made two separate tables (for both groups of children), one for the influence of the visual stimuli and one for the influence of the auditory stimuli, to continue with the results of the first table. This new table consists of three columns; one for the child's number, one to show the difference in seconds between the time among ordinary circumstances and the time with the influence of visual/auditory stimuli (this depends on the table we are talking about, for we made a table for the times with a visual stimuli and we made a table for the times with an auditory stimuli), and one that shows the difference in percentages of the time among ordinary circumstances. We are most interested in the last column of numbers (for we worked them out in the results).

A positive number means that the time measured with the influence of the visual/auditory stimuli was longer than the time measured among ordinary circumstances. The larger this number, the lower the ability to concentrate of this child.

A negative number means that the time measured with the influence of the visual/auditory stimuli was shorter than the time measured among ordinary circumstances. This means that the ability to concentrate of that child is better with the stimuli we used. This doesn't mean that the child's ability to concentrate gets better as the frequency or the volume of the stimuli increases, for we only used one visual stimuli and one auditory stimuli, so we do not know whether or not the child's ability to concentrate differs when we, for example, increase the volume of the sound track.

This is the way in which we determine a child's ability to concentrate.

## What do we mean with a delayed development?

A delayed development is a general term for children who develop slower than children on average. These children have a lower cognitive, language and speech, social and emotional, fine motor skill and/or gross motor skill development than children around the same age in general have. Sometimes, there is no clear cause for that. This means that people do not know why the child has a delayed development and what the future will bring. Most of these children are born with a delayed development. [2,3,4]

## Developmental milestones

Normally, children go through various changes in skill development during expected time periods, so called developmental milestones. [9] These are skills that a child gets within a certain time period, for example learning to crawl. Most children learn this developmental milestone between the age of 6 and 9 months. Of course there are some children who are faster and some who are slower. But when a child cannot succeed this developmental milestone within a certain span, for example when he/she is 14 months old and he can still not crawl, we say he/she has a delayed development. [2,4,9]

A child can only develop a skill before he has developed another skill. For example, a child needs to learn how to crawl before he will be able to walk.

## Five main areas of development

A delayed development can occur in all five areas of development, but it can also occur in only one or more of those areas of development. Of course, if a child has problems in one area, it is possible to influence the development in another area, because these areas are related to each other. These five main areas are: [9,10]

Cognitive psychological development: this is the ability to learn and to find solutions for problems that a child might face.

For example: a baby who learns to use his hands to investigate the environment, or a three-year-old child who tries out a new brain teaser game for kids.

Language and speech development: this is the ability to use and understand his mother language.

For example: a baby who is saying his/her first words.

Social and emotional development: this is the ability to communicate with others, through talking, through gestures and even through face expressions.

For example: a child pointing at something in the store that he wants.

Fine motor skill development: this is the ability to make use of small muscles.

For example: a baby uses his hands to pick up a toy.

Gross motor skill development: this is the ability to make use of large muscles.

For example: a baby learns to stand up while holding onto a chair and pulling himself up.

A child with a delayed development can have problems with one or more of these areas. For some children the diagnosis that they have a delayed development is determined at or just after birth, because doctors immediately see they have a disability. This can be either physical or neurological, e.g. misshapen hands, a head that is too big or too small or extraordinary features. Sometimes there are children who look like ordinary children, but they, for example, show other signs of serious complaints, such as an abnormal growth. During the first year of one's life, the development of the fine and gross motor skill will be delayed compared to ordinary children around the same age. [5,6,7,8,10]

Most children with a mental delayed development only show off the symptoms when they are toddlers. The thing parents notice at first is that the child has a delayed language development. The child will not be able to use and combine words as early as ordinary children.

Next to that, these children more often have behavioral problems, like tantrums, aggressive behavior and emotional outbursts. These problems are mostly associated with frustrating situations that get aggravated by limited communicative skills and by not controlling impulses. [6]

## Causes

Most of the time, there is no clear cause for a child having a delayed development. However, there are various factors during pregnancy and after giving birth to the child that can play a role by the origination of a delayed development. As the number of causes increases, there is a bigger risk for the child having a delayed development. [7,9] We can place developmental problems into two different categories:

Genetic: The most common causes during pregnancy are the use of several medicines, excessive drinking, bad nutrition, exposure to radiation, virus infections (e.g. herpes simplex) and chromosomal anomalies such as the Down-syndrome, an ailment that is caused by irregular chromosome. Anoxia during birth can also cause a delayed development. [6,7,8,9,10]

Environmental: After birth there are also factors that can play a role. For example head injuries, undernourishment, being born prematurely, a brain tumor or a brain infection. But also emotional neglect or abuse can be the cause of a delayed development, because the child will not be stimulated enough by his/her parents to develop certain milestones. [1,6,9,10]

## IQ

Nobody has exactly the same level of intelligence. Therefore there are certain categories people belong to. These categories are called by the level of intelligence, the IQ. The higher the IQ, the faster a person is at learning. [7,8]

People with an IQ:

of 110 and above have an IQ that is above average.

between 90 and 110 have an average level of intelligence.

below 90 are not as 'smart' as others.

below 70 are mentally handicapped.

The group of people with an IQ below 70, the so called mentally handicapped people, can be subdivided into four grades:

Simple: IQ of 52-69. Their motor skill is underdeveloped and they might face social problems.

Average: IQ of 36-51. Their social, language, speech and motor skills are underdeveloped.

Serious: IQ of 20-35. They can hardly talk and they hardly show any face expressions.

Highly serious: IQ of 19 and lower. They hardly have any motor skill developments. Therefore they need nursing. [3,8]

## Dol~fijn

The children involved in our section project are four or five years old. These children have been observed already and it is determined they have developmental issues. They prepare themselves for (special) education. Children around this age should be able to use their fine and gross motor skills already [9], so did the children from Dol~fijn. The children from Dol~fijn involved in our section project only had mental issues, no physical developmental issues, otherwise it would not have been a fair concentration test.

## Games and tests

When children with a delayed development are playing games or have to do tests, they will work in a complete other way than regular children, for most children with a delayed development won't be using a system or a way in which they can work organized. These children can, for example, play very long with the same toy in the same kind of way, like piling up cars (instead of blocks) every time the child is allowed to play with cars. But it can also occur that the child never touches a certain toy or that he/she has only one favorite toy, which can also be because of the color or because of the shape. [2]

## Sources:

http://www.kinderneurologie.eu/ziektebeelden/ontwikkeling/ontwikkelingsachterstand.php

http://www.ontwikkelingsachterstand.nl/?artikel=watis

http://www.kiesbeter.nl/medische-informatie/medische-encyclopedie/ontwikkelingsachterstand/

http://www.meewestbrabant.nl/index.php/id_pagina/6320/naam/ontwikkelingsachterstand.htm

http://www.medicinfo.nl/d_ls0189

http://www.merckmanual.nl/mmhenl/sec23/ch285/ch285a.html

http://www.huisartscentraal.nl/huisartspraktijk_rasi/huisarts_medischeencyclopedie.php?itemid=13279

http://www.rahat.org/delayeddevelop.htm

http://www.howkidsdevelop.com/developDevDelay.html

Papers about children with a delayed development: 'Psychologie, theorie en praktijk' by Drs. F.F.O. Holzhauer and Drs. J.J.R. van Minden (uitgeverij Stenfert Kroese), tweede herziene druk. Pages 317, 323, 324

## What can be told about the ability to concentrate?

Concentration can be defined as: 'the ability to direct one's thinking in whatever direction one would intend'. [1]

We all sometimes have a good ability to concentrate, and sometimes are distracted very fast by something around us, or by other thoughts in our heads.

Someone's ability to concentrate greatly depends on a couple of things[1], that can be found below:

When we are interested and enjoy carrying out a certain task, we find it a lot easier to motivate ourselves.

The environment:

For most people, it's a lot easier to concentrate on a task when the surrounding they're in doesn't distract them. Distractions may for example be: noises, flickering lights, too high or too low temperatures, an uncomfortable chair, etc.

Psychological state:

If you are for example worried about something, in love or feeling sad, your ability to concentrate may not be as good as it usually is.

Our emotional and physical state:

When our body is in a good condition, for example relaxed, well rested and well fed, it will be easier to concentrate on a task and it will also be easier to see things in a positive way. This will make the task seem less hard, and therefore it will again be easier to concentrate on it.

Our commitment:

We need to control ourselves, to push ourselves and to stimulate ourselves to carry out the task. If we never take our tasks serious, it will take even longer to finish it.

Skill:

If we know for sure that we can carry out a task, we will be a lot more eager to start doing it. When we don't know what we have to do and have never done something like the task before, we tend to get more nervous and less motivated to start.

Two concepts that belong to our PWS are the two below [2]:

Auditory figure-ground: this is someone's ability to concentrate on the task he or she is doing, despite the fact that there are sounds such as voices, music, traffic sounds, etc. which may influence someone's ability to concentrate.

Visual figure-ground: this is someone's ability to concentrate on a task, despite the fact that there are visual stimuli around the person that may distract him or her from the task.

Sources:

http://www.counselling.cam.ac.uk/selfhelp/leaflets/concentration

http://www.gatfl.org/LearningDisabilitiesGuide/Terms.aspx

## What is the difference between the influence of external factors on the two groups of children?

On both groups (the regular primary school children and the children with a delayed development), the external factors have an influence. The influence of the external factors on children with a delayed development can be seen in the table below (the table below can also be found in the 'results', and in the results we also included a bar chart).

100%

100%

102.9%

132.1%

## Time used with the auditory stimuli, in percentages of the time used among ordinary circumstances

106.5%

123.2%

As you can see, the difference for regular primary school children between the time needed among ordinary circumstances and the time needed with the influence of the visual stimuli is 2.9%. The difference for children with a delayed development for these two circumstances is 32.1%. Therefore, you can tell that the influence of the external factor light has a bigger influence on children with a delayed development than on regular primary school children.

The difference for regular primary school children between the time needed among ordinary circumstances and the time needed with the influence of the auditory stimuli is 6.5%. For the children with a delayed development, the difference between these two circumstances is 23.2%. You can see that the influence of the external factor sound has a bigger influence on children with a delayed development than on regular primary school children.

In short; the influence of external factors is bigger for children with a delayed development than for regular primary school children.

With the influence of the visual stimuli, most of the children looked at the flashing light. Some of the children only looked once (the first time the light flashed) and some of them looked at the light every time it flashed. Especially the children at Dol~fijn (these are the children with a delayed development) focused on the light instead of on the task they had to carry out.

With the influence of an auditory stimuli, a lot of children looked at the radio when the sound started. One of the children at Dol~fijn didn't want to carry out the task anymore because he felt that it was weird that, instead of music, there were traffic sounds coming out of the radio. A girl at the Donatushof (the primary school) told us what she heard when she recognized one of the sounds in the sample. Again, especially the children at Dol~fijn reacted to the sound and started looking around or looked at the radio.

You can find more information on the way the children reacted on the visual and auditory stimuli in the appendix, under the heading 'notes during the tests'. In 'notes during the tests' the way in which a child reacted to light or sound is explained for every particular child.

In the appendix, under the heading 'notes during the tests', you can find notes for every child about the way they worked. For most of the children, there wasn't a difference between the way in which they worked among ordinary circumstances and the way in which they worked with the influence of a stimuli (either visual or auditory).

Only child number 8 from the Donatushof used a different order in which he put the cubes into the box. When he did the test among ordinary circumstances, he started with the two rows at the bottom of the box and he worked from right to left. He went on with the two rows at the top of the box from left to right. With the influence of the visual stimuli or the auditory stimuli, he started at the bottom of the right side and then went up. He then did the two rows in the middle and ended up with the two rows at the left from the bottom to the top.

Apart from this boy, none of the children used a different system when they did the test among ordinary circumstances than when they did the test with one of the stimuli. Some of the children, especially the children at Dol~fijn, didn't use a system at all, not among ordinary circumstances and also not with the influence of one of the stimuli.

Most of the regular primary school children did have a system, while most of the children with a delayed development didn't. The system that was most used was the following one:

The child started at the right and at the bottom of the box, then went to the right top, followed by the middle part, then the left top and the child ended with the bottom of the left side.

Below you can see a scheme of the box. The numbers are the order in which the child put the cubes into the box (number 1 is the first cube put into the box and number 22 the last one).

16

15

10

9

8

7

18

17

12

11

6

5

20

19

14

13

4

3

22

21

2

1

## What group of children do we have to stimulate the most to carry out the assignment?

Like we said in the working process, we did not say a lot during the tests. Jeanne was the only one who talked twice during every test. Lara didn't say anything. After the child had put 8 cubes into 8 compartments, Jeanne once said 'goedzo' and after the child had put 16 cubes into 16 compartments Jeanne once said 'dat gaat snel, je bent bijna klaar'. We chose to mention this only twice to motivate the child, but we didn't want to motivate the child too much, for we wanted them to concentrate on the game and not on us.

Therefore we did not stimulate one group of children more than the other group. However, there were two children with a delayed development (from Dol~fijn) who were so distracted that they couldn't go on with the test. We tried to stimulate them the most we could, just to make sure that they would finish the game and could be proud of themselves.

Of course we knew that we would not be able to use these results for our research, because it would not be fair to compare these results with the results of the other children, whom we didn't stimulate that much (only twice, like we mentioned above).

There was, for example, one child that just made piles of cubes and he didn't fill the compartments at all. We couldn't measure this at all, because he didn't do what we told him to do. He just liked to play with the cubes instead of putting them in the compartments. During the test we explained him again and again that he had to fill the compartments. Both of us showed him what to do, but he liked to make piles more than to fill compartments.

Next to that there was a child who did not want to work with the auditory stimuli, because he didn't want to listen to the sound track we chose. He must have thought it was very strange to hear people talking and traffic sounds coming out of a radio. To him it felt unnatural that such sounds would come out of a radio, for he had learned that radio's play music and not traffic sounds. Therefore he made clear that we needed to put on another sound track. Luckily Jeanne brought some real music with her as well. So we put on a real song (Barbra Streisand by Duck Sauce) and the boy didn't complain anymore and finished the test. We didn't use all of his results, for we don't know if the influence, on the ability to concentrate, of the real song is the same as the influence the sound track has.

According to the statements given above, we can say that we needed to stimulate the group of children with a delayed development more than the group of regular primary school children…

## Primary school

The primary school teacher told us that the children who would be involved in our section project have an average level of education. Therefore she would not expect any problems concerning children who do not understand the test. So it would really be a concentration test.

About some of the children, the primary school teacher told us beforehand that she thought they would be distracted easily. She for example expected that child number eleven would not work that fast and would be distracted easily. As we can see in the results this is true, for this child needed 58.45 seconds to finish the game among ordinary circumstances, 70.86 seconds with a visual stimuli and 68.66 seconds with an auditory stimuli. We can also see that the child needed more time to do the same test than the children from Donatushof on average needed, which is 48.72 seconds among ordinary circumstances. This child took nearly ten seconds more for that.

Next to that the teacher also said that she would not expect a big difference for some children. For example for child number one, which is true, for this child needed 49.32 seconds for the test among ordinary circumstances, 45.61 seconds with a visual stimuli and 50.84 seconds with an auditory stimuli.

Another remark she made was that she certainly expected child number eight to be distracted easily. The teacher was surprised when she saw the results of this child, for his results were 43.06, 44.15 and 44.29 seconds.

## Dol~fijn

The supervisor on Dol~fijn told us beforehand that it would be quite difficult to create a test to measure the ability to concentrate of children with a delayed development, for it would not be easy to involve the children in a test and to let them do the test the way we explain them to do it. She thought some children might not understand the idea of filling compartments with cubes, because some children might want to play with the cubes only. As an example she mentioned child number ten. She said to us that she was not sure whether or not the child would participate. She was true, for the child wanted to make piles of the cubes instead of filling the compartments.

When we asked her about the ability to concentrate of the children at Dol~fijn who would be involved in our section project, she said that most of them would be distracted easily. She expected the children to look at the light when we were going to flash it. Yet she thought most children would only look at it the first few times Jeanne flashed it and then they would continue with the test.

Next to that she thought that the sound track would be quite distracting, for the children would look at where the sound would come from. They would recognize the sound, but it would be strange for them to hear traffic sounds coming out of a radio. Therefore she thought we would be able to measure a difference in the ability to concentrate between the different stimuli we used in our tests.

## What external factor (light or sound) has a bigger influence on the children's ability to concentrate?

As you can see in the table and bar chart in the 'results', for the regular primary school children, the influence of the visual stimuli (2.9%) on the children's ability to concentrate was smaller than the influence of the auditory stimuli (6.5%) on their ability to concentrate.

For the children at Dol~fijn, so the children with a delayed development, the influence of the visual stimuli (32.1%) on a child's ability to concentrate was bigger than the influence of an auditory stimuli (23.2%) on a child's ability to concentrate.

The bar chart below can also be found in the results:

We think that it is remarkable that the regular primary school children were most influenced by the auditory stimuli while the children with a delayed development were most influenced by the visual stimuli.

We tried to think of a reason for this and came to the following hypothesis; we think that the children at Dol~fijn already have got difficulties focusing on the task. When we flash the light, this will have a big influence on their ability to concentrate, for the children already have to do a task for which they need their vision a lot. Therefore, they will be more distracted by the visual stimuli than by the auditory stimuli. However, this is still not an explanation for the fact that the regular primary school children are influenced less by the visual stimuli than by the auditory stimuli. We thought that an explanation might be that they are quite used to people walking through their light when they are busy, flickering lights, etc. but they aren't used to traffic sounds while they are doing their task. Therefore, they will be more affected by the auditory stimuli than by the visual stimuli.