Evaluating the Utility and Validity of the Representational Redescription Model as a General Model for Cognitive Development
A series of studies were conducted with the aim of showing that the Representational Redescription (RR) model (Karmiloff-Smith, 1992) can be used a general model of cognitive development. In this thesis, 3 aspects of the RR model were explored. The first set of experiments involved analysing the generalisability of RR levels across tasks in a domain. In an initial study, the levels of the RR model were successfully applied to a balance scale task. Then, in a subsequent study, children’s RR levels on the balance scale task were compared with their RR levels on a balance beam task (see Pine et al, 1999). Children were seen to access the same level of verbal knowledge across both tasks. This suggests that it is verbal knowledge which provides the basis for generalisation of knowledge. The second set of experiments involved a consideration of the RR model in relation to the domain of numeracy. The levels of the RR model were applied to children’s developing representations for the one-to-one and cardinality principles. The RR levels were shown to have utility in predicting children’s openness to different types of “procedurally based” and “conceptually based” teaching interventions, with pre-implicit children benefiting from procedural interventions, and children who have implicit and more advanced representational levels benefiting from conceptual interventions. The final study involved a microgenetic analysis of children’s representational levels on the balance beam task. The findings from this study indicated the importance of a period of stability prior to a cognitive advance, and demonstrated that cognitive advances can be driven by changes in the verbal explanations that are offered, rather than changes in successful performance. This provides support for the mechanism of change proposed by Karmiloff-Smith, 1992. Together, the findings indicate that the RR model provides a useful perspective about the cognitive development of children. In particular, the thesis highlights when children can use the same representations for different tasks in a domain and suggests the mechanism that brings about representational change.