Faculté des lettres et sciences humaines

Nice designed experiment goes to the local community

Muller Mirza, Nathalie ; Baucal, Aleksandar ; Perret-Clermont, Anne-Nelly ; Marro, Pascale

In: Cahiers de Psychologie, 2003, vol. 38, p. 17-28

The point of departure for the issues that will be addressed in this paper is our astonishment at the result of our experiment using the Piagetian conservation task in a primary school setting. We found that the responses of the children in the experiment did not fit our expectations. The starting point of the experiment was the hypothesis that repetition of the same question in a conservation... Plus

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    Summary
    The point of departure for the issues that will be addressed in this paper is our astonishment at the result of our experiment using the Piagetian conservation task in a primary school setting. We found that the responses of the children in the experiment did not fit our expectations. The starting point of the experiment was the hypothesis that repetition of the same question in a conservation task could mislead children to give a preoperational answer. We designed the experiment (tasks, balancing, and a well defined procedure) with precise and simple questions that seemed appropriate for testing the hypothesis. However, during the experiment we realized that almost no child from the first grade of primary school gave a concrete-operational answer. In trying to understand the background of this unexpected event we realized, once again, that the children’s reference frame was different from ours: while we asked them about the amount of juice in the glasses, they (re)constructed the question as a task consisting of comparing levels of juice in the glasses. Moreover, we found that we were testing not only the children but in fact the whole community. Parents, teachers and school authorities were behind the scene actors if not the very actors in our research.