M. Beatrice Ligorio, Eleonora Dispoto

The missing correspondence between conservation of liquid and conservation of quantity in three to six years old pupils: an explorative study

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Piagetian Experiments; Conservation; Quantity; Socio-Cognitive Conflict; Intersubjectivity.

The main scope of this explorative study is to highlight the complexity of children capability of conservation. As already discussed in other studies, even very young children are able to give conservative answers but the processes through which they arrive to such answers are not yet completely clear. We inquired these processes by using an experimental protocol - inspired by that used by Grossen and Perret-Clermont - that considers social interaction as a dimension able to shed light light on such complexity. 20 toddlers from three to six years old followed our experimental protocol which is composed by a phase with individual tests and a phase where interaction with peers occurs. The answers collected were audio-recorded, transcribed and analyzed, discriminating conservation from not-conservation answers. Results obtained allow to claim that the social component (activated through counter-suggestion and interaction with peers) even in such young children, supports: a) the mastering of conservation; b) the overcoming of the focus on one perceptive element at the time. Indeed, the conservation is not always conceived through the recognition of quantitative invariance but rather through the capability to consider more than one contextual element at the same time. In particular, the most interesting result of this study is to have clarified that for toddlers of the age we considered capability of conservation of liquid do not correspond to the capability of conservation of quantity. We believe these results may contribute at the discussion around the Piagetian vision of the cognitive development and may also offer useful indications for educational contexts.

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