I will post our protocols shortly to what exactly transpires where you
"test" a child or an adult with these blocks. Bu here is a short
The task is used to look at the PROCESS of constructing a symbolic tool
in the whole, and not only at the "result". The conversation is around
the blocks and the interviewer is using the "nonsense" labels to refer
to the blocks and all the time follows the child's (or an adult's)
strategies in constructing the "concept" or the meaning in a more and
more precise way.
Based on this task, once can see the following "structures" of the
strategies used to form a concept:
*"Heaps"* -- is a structure in which the strategy is really random --
there is no attempt to connect a few blocks by a perceptual or a
relational category. It seems that the child bases their choices based
on "intuition" or a "hunch". Whether they "guess" right or wrong, they
cannot explain what was the reasoning behind. For instance, one may show
a child a large, tall red cube and say: "This is a "LAG". Hive me
another LAG!" After the child chooses a block, if they "guessed right",
one might say: "Great, how did you know that this was also a LAG?" or if
they "guessed wrong" one might say: "Oh, no! This is a "MUR". What made
you think that this was a "LAG"?
At the stage of "heaps" -- the child would in both cases respond that it
was just a hunch, a thought... (in different ways and words). This might
go on for a few turns and lead either to a more coordinated responses
and introduction of some strategies -- or not.
*Complexes -- *are the first type of strategies that children (and
adults) introduce. Different structures of strategies that form
*chains (*of choices*) - *there is a* *link between each two
successive blocks chosen to be members of a concepts. It can be a
shape, a color, a size.... However, criterion for a link changes in
each turn creating a chain of elements only locally connected. (BIG
red tall cube ::: BIG green short square ::: small GREEN short
circle::: big red tall CIRCLE etc)
*stars (*of choices*) *- there is a central block and each
successive block is chosen for SOME perceptual or even categorical
reason it links to the central one -- although the successive
choices do not have to be coordinated with each other) (I'll
illustrate that on the wiki).
*"fuzzy categories"* -- there is an attempt to choose many blocks
based on one criterion -- sort of. The criterion might be fuzzy.
Something all triangles and trapezoids and maybe hexagons -- are
somewhat alike -- the attempt is to place them together -- but there
is an effort to use ONE criterion or ONE combination of criteria
throughout the 22 blocks
*pseudo-concepts* -- the criteria for choices are almost completely
consistent throughout the categories, but the "glue" that holds the
categories are actually the labels -- the "nonsense" words -- since
there are some internal inconsistencies which cannot be totally
explained just based on logic. in the real life think of our usage
of: "fruits and vegetables" -- where does a tomato belong???
(Scientifically a fruit, but culinary a vegetable!! -- a pseudo-concept)
*Concepts* -- or scientific concepts requires developing of strategies
that can deploy a principle (or a set of coordinated principles)
throughout the WHOLE set of elements without exception -- they are
internally related to each other and to a higher category or categories.
And therefore we can say "give me a LAG" and know that all "tall and
large" objects are going to be picked up regardless of any other
perceptual quality and in relation to other objects in a vicinity.
What I wanted to stress is the PROCESS -- that this task is designed to
look at **the successive strategies and their coordination** as the task
progresses and more labels are uncovered, which provides more
information. Obviously, the activity around the task should be
structured differently based on the age(s) of children/adults. Do you
uncover the labels after each block is chosen or wait longer?? Which
blocks to start with?? There are some blocks that are relatively hard to
place into a category even when the principles are worked out at the
level of concepts (I'll show it on the pictures) when I have time
tonight or tomorrow)...
Martin, you asked: "How realistic is to set this task with scientific
concepts?". I always thought that this tasks enables the whole RANGE of
developmental possibilities to be seen. It is not a
"correct"-"incorrect" type of a test, but a diagnostic task which lets
the child (adult) show what strategies they use in collaboration with a
partner who "knows" the names (the meaning??) of things. It is a micro
genetic cultural tool, in the sense that it also enables a
child/adolescent/adult - to develop their own strategies, through
reflexive refinement which takes place between the partners in the task
Martin Packer wrote:
> Thanks, Ana, for the great wiki. I think it was me who locked the page -
> So do I have this right? The blocks have shape, color, height and width.
> These are their intrinsic attributes, most salient perceptually. But these
> attributes turn out to be irrelevant to the categories which the nonsense
> words define. The blocks also have relational attributes, large/small and
> tall/short, which become apparent if one engages in comparison (A block is
> 'small' only in comparison with another which is 'big.') and judgment (of
> similarity or difference). Furthermore, identification of these attributes
> requires consideration of the blocks as a whole (to decide what the possible
> values are: big, small, nothing in between, etc.).
> The four nonsense words define categories in terms of the conjunctions of
> these two relational attribute. (LAG = large + tall, for example.) There is
> no single attribute, either intrinsic or relational, which all and only the
> members of such a category have in common. (It is not the case that all CEV,
> for example, share a common and exclusive color, or a common and exclusive
> So the task is intended to model the situation where a child interacts with
> an adult who knows a concept - and uses a word - which the child does not
> know. The adult concept does not correspond in any simple way with what is
> directly perceivable.
> This, from Ollman, seems to describe the underlying presumption nicely: In
> dialectics "The assumption is that while the qualities we perceive with our
> five senses actually exist as parts of nature, the conceptual distinctions
> that tell us where one thing ends and the next one begins both in space and
> across time are social and mental constructs."
> So in order to come to make the same conceptual distinctions as the adult,
> the child needs to move beyond what is immediately given in the senses,
> focus their attention, make relational judgments, abstract these from the
> other attributes, combine them logically...
> I assume that the nonsense categories, for Vygotsky, represent scientific
> concepts? They are not family resemblances, for sure. Here's where I start
> to have questions. If everyday concepts are generally complexes, i.e. family
> resemblances or what Ryle called polymorphous concepts, how realistic is it
> to set up this task with scientific concepts? I wonder how children would
> perform if the nonsense words defined family resemblances. Or (on the other
> hand) if they defined more logically complicated categories: LAG = large +
> tall OR small + short. Has someone tried this?
> On 3/7/07 9:57 AM, "Ana Marjanovic-Shane" <email@example.com> wrote:
>> I can see people are already looking at the photos of the blocks for
>> double stimulation task.
>> Here are some useful tips for using a wiki:
>> 1. When you edit a page on a wiki, finish editing by saving the page
>> (click on save button on the bottom) or your changes might
>> disappear!!) Or if you clicked on the "edit" button just to see
>> how it works, please also click on either "save" or "cancel" so
>> that a page does not stay "locked".
>> 2. If your addition is more than a comment on the content of a page
>> -- please create a new page and make a link to it on the "Side
>> bar" (edit "side bar")
>> 3. Other useful tips can be found on the link named "Tour of PBWIKI"
>> on the "Side bar"
>> It is quite fun and maybe a good tool for sharing information on a
>> single topic in one place. -- one can also add links to different
>> postings on the XMCA!!)
>>> I created a wiki with pictures of the blocks we made as graduate
>>> students and used for studying effects of the double stimulation task
>>> You are welcome to see it, at
>>> I will soon create a another page with the details of the protocols we
>>> used, but I don't have any preserved actual transcripts from that time.
>>> I am giving you full access to add pages and comments, post more
>>> pictures or pose questions.
>>> I included Shirley's technical description of the blocks, and already
>>> saw a small difference in labeling some and in the colors used...
>>> Maybe we can make a collection of different sets here and different
>>> protocols as well as some transcripts??
>>> What do you think??
> xmca mailing list
------------------------------------------------------------------------ /Ana Marjanovic-Shane, Ph.D./ /151 W. Tulpehocken St./
/Philadelphia//, PA 19144///
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