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On Empathy Development in Young Children

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During the formative years, habits, outlooks, and attitudes develop which influence social interaction throughout life. Because empathy is crucial in social interaction, empathy development should be supported. Evidence of empathy is first observed around the age of two (Radke-Yarrow et

During the formative years, habits, outlooks, and attitudes develop which influence social interaction throughout life. Because empathy is crucial in social interaction, empathy development should be supported. Evidence of empathy is first observed around the age of two (Radke-Yarrow et al., 1983, 1984; Spinrad & Fabes, 2009). The purpose of this thesis is to examine empathy in children from multiple perspectives. The scientific literature reviews the discovery of the mirror neuron system (MNS). A study on nine- and ten-year-old children showed a correlation between MNS activity and empathic concern (Pfeifer et al. 2008). Another study with a mean age of 11 demonstrated that high emotional intelligence (EI) resulted in more nominations for "cooperation" and less for "aggression" (Petrides, Sangareau, Furnham & Frederickson, 2006). The three most common EI tests (MSCEIT, TEIQue, Bar-On) are modeled to measure empathy (Bar-On, 2006; Goleman 1998, 1995; Mayer & Caruso 1997; Petrides & Furnham 2001). Psychologists agree that low measures are linked to narcissistic and aggressive behavior. The Observational Study analyzed both evidence of empathy and a lack of empathy in interactions with three- and four-year-old children. Personal experiences were also shared on how empathy was understood and practiced. Lastly, the children's short story was written to support empathy development through fiction-reading.

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2018-12

A Comprehensive Review of the Effects of Immigration on Development in Early and Middle Childhood

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Immigration becomes relevant in policies and U.S. culture as globalization spreads. The physical relocation affects children’s development because they are growing up during uncertain times and they could potentially miss important milestones during childhood if the effects of immigration are

Immigration becomes relevant in policies and U.S. culture as globalization spreads. The physical relocation affects children’s development because they are growing up during uncertain times and they could potentially miss important milestones during childhood if the effects of immigration are not understood and explored. This paper aims to assess children’s physical, psychosocial, and academic trends and how they compare to native citizens of the United States. Law, research, medicine, and education are all relevant realms that could work on understanding the immigrant children’s problems, as well as help bolster any advantages and skills they might have.

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2020-05

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Do Emotions Make A Difference? Determining if Positive Emotions Moderate the Effectiveness of an Embodied Language Comprehension Intervention

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Previous research demonstrated the overall efficacy of an embodied language intervention (EMBRACE) that taught pre-school children how to simulate (imagine) language in a heard narrative. However, EMBRACE was not effective for every child. To try to explain this variable

Previous research demonstrated the overall efficacy of an embodied language intervention (EMBRACE) that taught pre-school children how to simulate (imagine) language in a heard narrative. However, EMBRACE was not effective for every child. To try to explain this variable response to the intervention, the video recordings made during the four-day intervention sessions were assessed and emotion was coded. Each session was emotion-coded for child emotions and for child-researcher emotions. The child specific emotions were 1) engagement in the task, this included level of participation in the activity, 2) motivation/attention to persist and complete the task, as well as stay focused, and 3) positive affect throughout the session. The child-researcher specific emotions were 1) engagement with each other, this involved how the child interacted with the researcher and under what context, and 2) researcher’s positive affect, this incorporated how enthusiastic and encouraging the researcher was throughout the session. It was hypothesized that effectiveness of the intervention would be directly correlated with the degree that the child displayed positive emotions during the intervention. Thus, the analysis of these emotions should highlight differences between the control and EMBRACE group and help to explain variability in effectiveness of the intervention. The results did indicate that children in the EMBRACE group generally had a significantly higher positive affect compared to the control group, but these results did not influence the ability for the child to effectively recall or moderate the EEG variables in the post-test. The results also showed that children who interacted with the researcher more tended to be in the EMBRACE group, whereas children who did not interact with the researcher more frequently were in the control group, showing that the EMBRACE intervention ended up being a more collaborative task.

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2020-05

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A Child's Ability to Learn Emotion Understanding and Coping Strategies

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Self-regulation in the form of coping with emotions is something that most people have effectively adapted to by adulthood. This is an organically learned process that begins in early childhood through play, parenting, education, and peer interactions. This study examines

Self-regulation in the form of coping with emotions is something that most people have effectively adapted to by adulthood. This is an organically learned process that begins in early childhood through play, parenting, education, and peer interactions. This study examines whether six children aged 4-5 (M age= 4.72, SD= 0.372, 50% female, 100% Caucasian) are able to understand basic emotions and how to cope with them through one of two protocols. The conditions were either directive instruction or embodied cognition, and children were evaluated with a pre and post-test measure. Findings did not indicate any significant effect of the conditions on memorizing coping mechanisms, nor did it indicate that there was a significant improvement in emotion understanding following the sessions. These findings were limited by the sample size and participant interest.

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2017-12

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Going Back in Time: Children’s Word Learning Through Backwards Integration

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For many years now, early word learning in children has been an important subject among many researchers. There are many ways in which children learn word-object pairings including using co-occurrences, forwards integration, and backwards integration. This study primarily focuses on

For many years now, early word learning in children has been an important subject among many researchers. There are many ways in which children learn word-object pairings including using co-occurrences, forwards integration, and backwards integration. This study primarily focuses on backwards integration. Backwards integration entails using learned information to be able to recall a word-object pairing from a previous time. In this thesis, three different studies were conducted with children aged 3-7 years old. In the general task, children were presented with a computerized word-learning task in which they could track word-referent pairings using co-occurrence statistics, forward integration, and backward integration. The goal of Study 1 and Study 2 was to determine the best task design to study backwards integration. The goal of the final study, Study 3, was to provide preliminary data on backwards integration. The overall results indicate that a between subjects design is the most beneficial way to test backwards integration because as a group, children were learning when compared to chance. In addition, the results from Study 3 showed that children were not learning in the task. In general, this suggests that this task may have been very difficult for children to complete. One limitation of Study 3
was that there was a small sample size of only 29 children. In order to account for this, the sample sizes in Study 2 and Study 3 were combined. This combined data did show that children succeeded at the backwards integration condition. It is noteworthy to mention that backwards integration was above chance in Study 2 and in the Study 2 and 3 combination. Therefore, the overall results suggest that children may possibly be able to backwards integrate; however, no evidence of learning in any of the other conditions were present.

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2019-05

Theory of Mind Development in Middle Childhood

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How do children understand how others see the world? I examined correlations between 4-8 year old children's understanding of beliefs and their understanding of other ways that people represent the world. Beliefs that I measured are understanding of pretense, understanding

How do children understand how others see the world? I examined correlations between 4-8 year old children's understanding of beliefs and their understanding of other ways that people represent the world. Beliefs that I measured are understanding of pretense, understanding that things can have multiple identities, understanding that people can know things by inference, and understanding that people can look at the same thing and have different representations of it. I predicted that there would be correlations among these tasks. In particular, I predicted children would be able to understand these tasks when they understood true and false beliefs, based on current theories on belief understanding. I predicted that the classic false belief task alone would not be a good predictor of task performance, but that the combination of true and false belief tasks would. Participants were 100 children recruited at the Phoenix Children's Museum between ages 4 and 8. Previous research has found that children pass all of these tasks between the ages of 6 and 8, but no other studies have looked at the inter-correlations among them. Contrary to my prediction, children did not pass these tasks all at once, but scores went up gradually with age and belief understanding.

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2016-12

The Primer Project: Creating an Interactive Children's Storybook

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As part of a group project, myself and four teammates created an interactive children's storybook based off of the "Young Lady's Illustrated Primer" in Neal Stephenson's novel The Diamond Age. This electronic book is meant to be read aloud by

As part of a group project, myself and four teammates created an interactive children's storybook based off of the "Young Lady's Illustrated Primer" in Neal Stephenson's novel The Diamond Age. This electronic book is meant to be read aloud by a caregiver with their child, and is designed for reading over long distances through the use of real-time voice and video calling. While one part of the team focused on building the electronic book itself and writing the program, myself and two others wrote the story and I provided illustrations. Our Primer tells the story of a young princess named Charname (short for character name) who escapes from a tower and goes on a mission to save four companions to help her on her quest. The book is meant for reader-insertion, and teaches children problem-solving, teamwork, and critical thinking skills by presenting challenges for Princess Charname to solve. The Primer borrows techniques from modern video game design, focusing heavily on interactivity and feelings of agency through offering the child choices of how to proceed, similar to choose-your-own-adventure books. If brought to market, the medium lends itself well to expanded quests and storylines for the child to explore as they learn and grow. Additionally, resources are provided for the narrator to help create an engaging experience for the child, based off of research on parent-child cooperative reading and cooperative gameplay. The final version of the Primer included a website to run the program, a book-like computer to access the program online, and three complete story segments for the child and narrator to read together.

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2016-05

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Sum sed cogitone? Can children introspect their mental states?

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Introspective awareness refers to direct access to one’s own internal and subjective thoughts and feelings (Wimmer & Hartl, 1991). Two theories, simulation theory and theory-theory, have been used to understand our access to our mental states. Simulation theory (Harris, 1991)

Introspective awareness refers to direct access to one’s own internal and subjective thoughts and feelings (Wimmer & Hartl, 1991). Two theories, simulation theory and theory-theory, have been used to understand our access to our mental states. Simulation theory (Harris, 1991) involves imagining yourself in another person’s situation, reading off of your mental state, and attributing that state to the other person. Theory-theory (Gopnik, 1993) involves an interrelated body of knowledge, based on core mental-state constructs, including beliefs and desires, that may be applied to everyone—self and others (Gopnik & Wellman, 1994). Introspection is taken for granted by simulation theory, and explicitly denied by theory-theory. This study is designed to test for evidence of introspection in young children using simple perception and knowledge task. The current evidence is against introspective awareness in children because the data suggest that children cannot report their own false beliefs and they cannot report their on-going thoughts (Flavell, Green & Flavell, 1993; Gopnik & Astington, 1988). The hypothesis in this study states that children will perform better on Self tasks compared to Other tasks, which will be evidence for introspection. The Other-Perception tasks require children to calculate the other’s line of sight and determine if there is something obscuring his or her vision. The Other-Knowledge tasks require children to reason that the other’s previous looking inside a box means that he or she will know what is inside the box when it is closed. The corresponding Self tasks could be answered either by using the same reasoning for the self or by introspection to determine what it is they see and do not see, and know and do not know. Children performing better on Self tasks compared to Other tasks will be an indication of introspection. Tests included Yes/No and Forced Choice questions, which was initially to ensure that the results will not be caused by a feature of a single method of questioning. I realized belatedly, however, that Forced Choice was not a valid measure of introspection as children could introspect in both the Self and Other conditions. I also expect to replicate previous findings that reasoning about Perception is easier for children than reasoning about Knowledge.

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2013-12

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The Role of Fruits and Vegetables in Hydration of 3-13 y Old Children

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Background: Inadequate hydration can have several adverse effects on health. In children, it can negatively affect their health and cognitive performance. The effects of fruits and vegetables on the hydration of children have not been adequately studied. This study included

Background: Inadequate hydration can have several adverse effects on health. In children, it can negatively affect their health and cognitive performance. The effects of fruits and vegetables on the hydration of children have not been adequately studied. This study included 177 children in this age group and examined the contribution of fruits and vegetables (F&V) on total water intake (TWI).

Methods: Two-day dietary and fluid intake records as well as 24-h urine samples were collected from 177 children over different weekends. The dietary records were analyzed with Nutrition Data System for Research to obtain TWI from food (TWI-F) as well as TWI from fruits and vegetables (TWI-FV). The fluid intake data was used to determine TWI from liquids (TWI-L). The urine samples were analyzed for volume (UVol), urine osmolality (UOsm), urine specific gravity (USG), and urine color (UCol) to examine hydration. Age was categorized into 3, 4-8, and 9-13 y based on the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

Results: About 52% of the children did not meet water intake recommendations by IOM and 39.8% of the children were underhydrated based on elevated urine osmolality. The average TWI was found to be 1,911± 70 mL. TWI-F was observed to be 492±257 mL, while TWI-L was 1,419±702 mL. TWI-FV only contributed 200±144 mL. As expected TWI was significantly higher in the older children (9-13 y) than children in other age group (3 and 4-8 y). The average UVol was 709±445 mL, USG was 1.019±0.006, UOsm was 701±233 mOsm·kg-1, and UCol was a 3±1 (based on the urine color chart). Only urine volume seemed to be influenced by the age of the children as it was significantly higher for the children in the 9-13 y age group.

Conclusion: Nearly half of the children did not meet water recommendations by IOM and were underhydrated. Fruits and vegetables did not have a significant contribution to TWI. Dietary interventions to increase F&V consumption, lower consumption of SSB, as well as maintain proper hydration may benefit the health of children.

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2020-05

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Accessibility to Information in the City of Phoenix Regarding Childhood Vaccinations: A Comparative Case Study

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The rate of vaccinations has been consistently decreasing in the past years in children of ages 0-18. Multiple factors and barriers contribute to these low rates. This comparative case study investigated the accessibility of information regarding childhood vaccinations to parents

The rate of vaccinations has been consistently decreasing in the past years in children of ages 0-18. Multiple factors and barriers contribute to these low rates. This comparative case study investigated the accessibility of information regarding childhood vaccinations to parents in areas with differing poverty levels in the greater Phoenix region, specifically in the West Valley, Downtown Phoenix, and the East Valley. Pediatric clinics, public elementary schools, and public libraries were visited in each area to assess how much information was available where. The analysis produced unexpected results: the West Valley, which had the highest poverty level, contained the most amount of accessible information for parents in many languages, while the East Valley, with a low poverty level, had almost no information accessible to parents of these children. Implications for future research, policy, and practice are discussed. Based on these unexpected results, one recommendation is to develop a pamphlet that could be distributed to these public places to raise awareness of the importance of vaccinations in children to parents.

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2020-05