Methods of research in developmental psychology and age psychology
The complex of research methods used in age psychology consists of several blocks of techniques borrowed from general, differential and social psychology and adapted to work with representatives of a particular age category.
From general psychology methods of studying cognitive processes and the personality of the child are taken. They are adapted to the age of the child and are aimed at studying perceptions, attention, memory, imagination, thinking and speech. Using Data
methods can get information about the age-related features of the cognitive processes of children and the transformation of these processes when the child is growing up, i.e. on the specifics of the transition from one age group to another.Methods for studying the individual and age differences of children are borrowed from differential psychology. The so-called "twin method", which studies the similarities and differences between homozygous and heterozygous twins, is very popular. On the basis of the data obtained, conclusions are drawn about the organic (genotypic) and environmental conditioning of certain phenomena of the psyche and the behavior of the child.
Social psychology provided age psychology with methods that allow students to study interpersonal relationships in various children's groups, as well as relationships between children and adults. These methods include: observation, interview, conversation, experiment, method of slices, testing, questioning, analysis of products of activity. All these methods are also adapted to the age of the child. Let's consider them in more detail.
Observation is the main method for working with children (especially preschool age), because tests, experiments, interviews are complex for the study of child behavior. It is necessary to start observation with setting a goal, drawing up an observation program, developing an action plan. The purpose of the observation is to determine what it is for and what results can be expected at the output.
In order to obtain reliable results, surveillance should be conducted regularly. This is due to the fact that children grow very quickly and the changes that occur in the behavior and psyche of the child are just as fleeting. For example, the behavior of the baby is changing before our eyes, therefore, after missing one month, the researcher is deprived of the opportunity to obtain valuable data on his development during this period.
The younger the child, the less should be the interval between observations. In the period from birth to 2-3 months, the child should be monitored daily; at the age from 2-3 months to 1 year - weekly; from 1 year to 3 years - every month; from 3 to 6-7 years - once every six months; at a younger school age and later - once a year.
The method of observation when working with children is more effective than others, on the one hand, because they behave most directly and do not play social roles imposed by adults. On the other hand, children (especially preschool children) have not enough sustained attention and can often be distracted from their usual affairs. Therefore, whenever possible, we should conduct a covert observation so that children do not see the observer.
Poll can be spoken and written. When using this method, there may be difficulties of the following nature. Children understand the question asked by them in their own way, ie. invest in it a different meaning than an adult. This is because the system of concepts in children differs significantly from that used by adults. This phenomenon is observed in adolescents. Therefore, before you get an answer to the asked question, you need to make sure the child understands it correctly, explaining and discussing the inaccuracies, and only then interpret the answers received.
The experiment is one of the most reliable methods of obtaining information about the behavior and psychology of the child. The essence of the experiment is that in the process of research, the child is interested in the mental processes of interest to the researcher and conditions are created that are necessary and sufficient for the manifestation of these processes.
The child, entering the experimental game situation, behaves directly, emotionally responding to the proposed situations, does not play any social roles. This allows you to get his true reactions to the influencing stimuli. The results are most reliable in this case, if the experiment is conducted in the form of a game. It is important that the game expressed the immediate interests and needs of the child, otherwise he will not be able to fully demonstrate his intellectual abilities and the necessary psychological qualities. In addition, when the child is included in the experiment, the child acts momentarily and spontaneously, so during the entire experiment it is necessary to maintain interest in the event.
Sections - another method of research in age psychology. They are divided into transverse and longitudinal (longitudinal).
The essence of the cross-sectional method is that in a group of children (class, several classes, children of different ages, but trained by the same program) a parameter (for example, an intellectual level). The advantage of this method is that in a short time it is possible to obtain statistical data on age-related differences in mental processes, to establish how age, gender, or another factor influences the main trends in mental development. The disadvantage of the method is that in the study of children of different ages it is impossible to obtain information about the development process itself, its nature and driving forces.
Using the method longitudinal (longitudinal) slices the development of a group of the same children can be traced for a long time. This method allows to establish qualitative changes in the development of mental processes and the personality of the child and to identify the causes of these changes, as well as to study development trends, minor changes that can not be covered by transverse sections. The disadvantage of the method is that the results obtained are based on the study of the behavior of a small group of children, so it is incorrect to distribute such data to a large number of children.
Testing allows you to reveal the level of intellectual abilities and personal qualities of a child. It is necessary to support the children's interest in this method in ways that are attractive to them, such as incentives or some kind of reward. When testing children, the same tests are used as for adults, but adapted for each age, for example, the children's version of the Kettel test, the Wechsler test, etc.
Conversation - this is getting information about the child in direct communication with him: the child is asked questions and are waiting for answers to them. This method refers to the empirical. An important condition for the effectiveness of the conversation is the setting atmosphere, goodwill, tact. Questions should be prepared in advance and recorded the answers, if possible, without drawing the attention of the subject.
Questionnaire is a method of obtaining information about a person based on his answers to pre-prepared questions. The questionnaire can be oral, written, individual or group.
Analysis of products of activity is a method of studying a person by analyzing the products of his activity: drawings, drawings, music, essays, training notebooks, personal diaries, etc. Thanks to this method, you can get information about the child's inner world, his attitude to the surrounding reality and people, about the features of his perception and other aspects of the psyche. The basis of this method is the principle unity of consciousness and activity , according to which the child's psyche is not only formed, but also manifests itself in activity. By drawing or creating something, the child gives the researchers the opportunity to reveal those aspects of his psyche that would be difficult to learn by other methods. On the basis of the drawings, one can study cognitive processes (sensations, imagination, perception, thinking), creative abilities, personal manifestations, the attitude of children toward the surrounding people.
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