The four capacities that allow babies to learn

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Infants are capable of two basic forms of learning'; 'classical conditioning and operant conditioning'. They also experience novel stimulation and observation of others to enhance their skills and capabilities' (Berk 2005, p.182).

Classical conditioning allows babies to absorb knowledge of their environment (Berk 2005, p.182). It enables the baby to anticipate the steps which will come next in their experiences, developing 'automaticity' (Berk 2005, Eggen & Kauchak 2010).

Operant conditioning is 'learning by consequences' (Berk 2005, p.184). A spontaneous behaviour can be rewarded with 'positive reinforcement'. 'Positive reinforcement' will encourage behaviour and increase the occurrence. A less desirable behaviour can often discouraged by 'punishment' (Berk 2005 p. 184). 'Punishment' will decrease the occurrence (Berk 2005).

A natural preference for babies is novel stimulation (Berk 2005, p.182). The human brain is preadapted to novelty. This allows the babies to respond more strongly to new elements introduced to their environment (Berk 2005, p.182). Habituation and recovery is when the babies' attention is focused to a novel stimulus and shifts focus to a new novel stimulus (Berk 2005). 'As a result learning is more efficient' (Berk 2005, p.184).

A baby possesses the built-in-ability to 'observe' others. As Stated by Berk (2005) a baby shortly after birth will learn by imitating others. 'They can soon imitate the facial expressions and gestures of adults' (Berk 2005, p. 182)

Explain why measures of infant intelligence are held to be poor predictors of later intelligence?

Berk (2005, p.229) states measuring an infant's intelligence is challenging. The infant is easily distracted, fatigued and experiences boredom during the testing (Berk 2005). The incapability of verbally answering questions, expressing themselves and following instructions produces results that do not reflect their true ability (Berk 2005, p. 229-230).

Week 7

Question 7.1

Glossary of cognitive vocabulary

Word or phrase

Formal definition from references

Internal working model

'A component of attachment development involving unconscious expectations about availability of emotional support and affection in relationships' (Peterson 2010, p. 574).

'Set of expectations about the availability of attachment figures, their likelihood of providing support during times of stress, and the self's interaction with those figures' (Bowlby cited in Berk 2005, p. 266).


'Stable individual differences in quality and intensity of emotional self-regulation' (Rothbart & Bates 1998, cited in Berk 2005, p. 258)

'Personal characteristics and behaviour dispositions which differentiate members of the same age group' (Peterson 2010, p. 581).

'The relatively stable inherited characteristics that influence the way we respond to social and physical stimuli' (Eggen & Kauchak 2010, p. G-8).

Question 7.2

Outline the effects of maternal depression on development.

Studies have shown that maternal depression can be harmful to the social and emotional

development of infants (Luby, cited in Haith & Benson 2008, p.368). A mother experiencing maternal depression creates a negative behaviour in the infant and they become unfocused and more withdrawn (Luby, cited in Haith & Benson 2008, p.369). A child interacting with a depressed mother reveals reduced left frontal activity; this suggesting a depressed mother modifies the positive and negative emotions in an infant (Dawson, 1994; Dawson & Ashman, 2000; Dawson, 1997; Dawson, Frey, Panagiotides, Yamada, Hessl, & Osterling, 1999; Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000, cited in Gross 2008, p.300). Evidence suggests without intervention children younger than 3 are at increased risk at ages 5-11 years for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. This may result in antisocial and aggressive behaviour (Hay, 2003; Wright, 2000, cited in Gross 2008, p. 301).

What factors seem to support the development of secure attachment?

Berk (2005) states four important influences on the development of secure attachment. The 'opportunity to establish a close relationship',' quality of caregiving', 'the baby's characteristics', and 'family context, including parents' internal working models' (Berk 2010, p. 269). Infants when given the opportunity build a relationship with caregivers and they are likely to develop a secure attachment (Berk 2005, p.269). Schaffer & Emerson have derived from the 'Strange Situation' research the quality of caregiving influences the development of secure attachment (Peterson 2010, p. 145). The quantity of care is irrelevant, (Schaffer & Emerson, 1964a, cited in Peterson 2010, p.145), to develop a secure attachment the caregiver must be attentive and responsive to the infants needs (DeWolff & vanIjendoom, 1997; Posoda et al., 2002; Stams, Juffer, & vanIjendoom 2002, cited in Berk 2005, p.269). Infant characteristic influences the relationship established between the caregivers. Contributing factors such as prematurity, birth complications and illness make caregiving difficult (Wille 1991, cited in Berk 2005, p.270). Others factors affecting the sensitivity of caregivers are family circumstances. These consist of marriage failures, financial problems and job loss therfore the sensitivity of the caregivers decrease (Berk 2005, p.271).

Week 8

Question 8.1

Glossary of cognitive vocabulary

Word or phrase

Formal definition from references

Operant conditioning

'Learning which takes place as a result of direct reinforcement of the desired behaviour'

(Peterson 2010, p.576).

'Learning in which voluntary behaviour is strengthened or weakened by consequences or antecedents' (Woolfolk 2001, p.597).

'A form of learning in which an observable response changes in frequency or duration as a result of a consequence' (Eggen & Kauchak 2010, p.G-5).

Object permanence

'The notion that an object which is out of sight and hearing continues to exist, (Peterson 2010, p. 576).

'The understanding that objects exist and separate from the shelf' (Eggen & Kauchak 2010, p. G-5).

'The understanding that objects have a separate, permanent existence' (Woolfolk 2001, p. 597).

Question 8.2

What are some of the problems associated with describing 'normal' development?

Normal development also referred to as 'age norms' can be useful in suggesting 'general trends' (Peterson 2010, p.34). Age norms are measured by age level expectancies (Peterson 2010, p.16). They can often be misinterpreted as they 'always represent a range and never an exact point in time (Allen & Moratz 2007, p.10). Each child being unique develops at different rates and performs tasks in different sequences and styles (Allen & Moratz 2007, p.12). When assessing a child's progress the crucial factor is sequence, not age (Plomin 1995, cited in Allen & Moratz 2007, p.11).

What is meant by 'objectivity' in recording observations, and why is objectivity important?

Observers when conducting naturalistic observations must remain objective and descriptive to achieve 'validity' (Berk 2005, p.42, Szarkowicz 2006, p.26). It is essential the observer does not influence results in any way. It is crucial they only present actual facts (Allen & Marotz 2003). Observers must exclude any personal bias, perspectives or experiences to remain objective (Szarkowicz 2006. P.24). It is imperative the observer remains objective to achieve reliability of results (Allen & Marotz, 2003). It is crucial accurate information is documented to monitor the child's development. This observation can be added to the child's portfolio to assess and discuss the child's developmental needs (Allen & Marotz 2003).

Week 9

Question 9.1

Glossary of cognitive vocabulary

Word or phrase

Formal definition from references


' One's mental dictionary, or store of word meanings'

( Peterson 2010, p.574).

Question 9.2

Outline the influences on children's language development.

A child's development is influenced by the social interaction in the family environment (Peterson 2010, p.168). Studies have revealed exposure to more speech can 'add words to their vocabulary 'at a faster pace' (Hoff & Naigles 2002; Huttenlocher, Bryk, Seltzer, & Lyons 1991, cited in Hoff 2005, p. 158). Children who attend day care centres have more one-to-one contact with an adult, thus increasing 'a more rapid language development' (McCartney, 1984; NICHD Child Care Network, 2000).

Birth order is also a contributing factor; first-borns acquire a lexicon and syntax at a faster rate than later-born children (Fenson et. Al., 1994; Hoff, Ginseng, 1998a; Pine, 1995, cited in Hoff 2005, p.159). Thus is influenced by the amount of 'one-to-one the child experiences (Hoff 2005, p. 159). A child with an outgoing personality 'may elicit more input, which could support more rapid language development (Slomkowski, Nelson, Dunn, & Plomin, 1992, cited in Hoff 2005, p.

The family's socioeconomic status is known to influence a child's vocabulary development 'children of more educated parents have larger vocabularies than children with less-educated parents' (Fenson, 1994; Hart & Riley, 1995; Hoff-Ginsberg, 1998a). Studies revealed 'more educated mothers talk to their children' (Hart & Risley, 1995; Hoff-Ginsberg, 1994; Hoff, Laursen & Tardif, 2002, cited in Hoff 2005, p. 159). Motherese can influence a 'child's acquisition of language structure,' as they are repetitious and demonstrate few 'grammatical errors' (Newport, Gleitman, & Gleitman, 1977 cited in Hoff 2005, p.225).



'Common Phonological Strategies Used by Young Children to Simplify Pronunciation of Adult Words', (Ingram, 1986, sited in Hoff 2005, p.369).

Strategy Example

Repeating the first consonant vowel in a multisyllable word.

"lolly" becomes "lol-lol'

Deleting unstressed syllables in a multisyllable


"Tomorrow" becomes "morro"

Replacing fricatives (hissing sounds) with stop consonant sounds

"yum" becomes "num"

Replacing consonant sounds produced in the rear and palate area of the vocal tract with one produced in the frontal area

"girl" becomes "dirl"

Reducing liquid sounds ("l" or "r" with glides ("y" or "w")

"love" becomes "wuv"

Reducing consonant-vowel-consonant words to a consonant-vowel form by deleting the final consonant

"ball" becomes "ba"

Replacing an ending consonant cluster to a single consonant

Replacing an ending consonant syllable with a vowel

What contributions have nativist theorists made to the understanding of language development?

Week 10

Question 10.1

Glossary of cognitive vocabulary

Word or phrase

Formal definition from references

Perspective taking

'The ability to cognitively shift vantage points and see situations from a variety of opposing points of view' (Peterson 2010, p.577)

'autonomy versus shame and doubt'

Question 10.2

How can adults help to socialise young children?

Is day care good for toddlers? Provide research evidence to support your answer.

Week 11

Question 11.1

Choose three terms particularly relevant to toddlers and add these to your assessed glossary. Select terms not previously asked for as assessment glossary or short answer questions and, where possible terms which are new to you.

Glossary of cognitive vocabulary

Word or phrase

Formal definition from references

Secondary circular reaction

'Piaget's term for infants' repetition of actions which they perceive as producing interesting and predictable outcomes' (Peterson 2010, p. 579).

Zone of proximal development


'Vygotsky's term for the region of potential growth lying between the child's capacity to perform a task with assistance and the capacity to perform the same task independently' (Peterson 2010, p.581).

Question 11.2

Some researchers consider the first three years of life to be crucial for later development. Others disagree. What is your opinion? Justify your stance from your reading.

Week 12

Question 12.1

Glossary of cognitive vocabulary

Word or phrase

Formal definition from references


Emotional abuse

Question 12.2

List and make brief notes on the risk factors which may increase the likelihood of child abuse.

Outline the effects of child abuse on the child.