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Terms in this set (23)

Chi (1978) demonstrated that developmental differ-
ences may be knowledge related. Her domain of demonstration was memory.
Not surprisingly, children do worse than adults on almost every memory task.
Do children perform worse because they know less about what they are being
asked to remember? To address this question, Chi compared the memory
performance of 10-year-olds with that of adults on two tasks—a standard
digit-span task (see the discussion in Chapter 6 around Figure 6.5) and a
chess memory task (see the discussion in Chapter 9 around Figure 9.14). The
10-year-olds were skilled chess players, whereas the adults were novices at
chess.

As Chi predicted, the adults were better on the digit-span task,
but the children were better on the chess task. The children's superior chess
performance was attributed to their greater knowledge of chess. The adults'
superior digit performance was due to their greater familiarity with digits—
the dramatic digit-span performance of participant SF (see the discussion in
Chapter 9 around Figure 9.17) shows just how much digit knowledge can lead
to improved memory performance.
The novice-expert contrasts in Chapter 9 are often used to explain devel-
opmental phenomena. We saw that a great deal of experience in a domain is
required if a person is to become an expert. Chi's argument is that children, be-
cause of their lack of knowledge, are near universal novices, but they can be-
come more expert than adults through concentrated experience in one domain,
such as chess.
The Chi experiment contrasted child experts with adult novices.
Schneider,
Körkel, and Weinert (1988) looked at the effect of expertise at various age levels.
They asked German schoolchildren at grade levels 3, 5, and 7 to recall a story
about soccer, and they categorized the children at each
grade level as either experts or novices with respect to
soccer. The results in Table 14.1 show that the effect
of expertise was much greater than that of grade level.
Moreover, on a recognition test, there was no effect of
grade level, only an effect of expertise. Schneider et al.
also classified each group of participants into high-
ability and low-ability participants on the basis of their
performance on intelligence tests. Although such tests
generally predict memory for stories, Schneider et al. found no effect of general ability level, only of knowledge for soccer. They argue
that high-ability students are just those who know a lot about a lot of domains
and consequently generally do well on memory tests. However, when tested on
a story about a specific domain such as soccer, a high-ability student who knows
nothing about that domain will do worse than a low-ability student who knows
a lot about the domain.
In addition to lack of relevant knowledge, children have difficulty on mem-
ory tasks because they do not know the strategies that lead to improved memory.
The clearest case concerns rehearsal. If you were asked to dial a novel seven-digit
telephone number, I would hope that you would rehearse it until you were con-
fident that you had it memorized or until you had dialed the number. How-
ever, this strategy would not occur to young children.