QUESTION 3: How do deaf children learn as compared to hearing children in the area of cognition?

Piagetís Stages of Cognitive Development: (1951)

  1. Sensorimotor stage is where children 0-2 yrs. cognition is limited to motor reflexes.
  2. Preoperational stage is where children 2-6 yrs. learn to master representational skills through the use of language, mental imagery and drawing.
  3. Concrete operational children ( ages 6-12 yrs.) demonstrate the ability to problem solve using concrete examples and physical situations.
  4. Formal operation stage (ages 12-15 yrs.) demonstrates the ability to use abstract thinking in order to problem solve.
Cognition of Deaf Children: Marschark (1993)
  1. Preoperational stage: Deaf children are more delayed in their overall experiences with the environment if primary bond is not strong. Due to the lack of ability to hear, deaf children struggle with changes in perceived consistent situations.
  2. Concrete operational stage: Due to deaf childrenís lack of verbal language skills, they are limited to opportunities for developmental interactions. The verbal instruction in using concrete examples limits deaf childrenís performance Furth (1966).
  3. Formal operational stage: Deaf children are assumed to be enable of reaching level of cognitive functioning. Futher testing needs to be completed in order to assess if nonverbal communication can develop abstract thinking.
Short Term Memory (STM): Marschark, (1993)
  1. The pairing of cognition and linguistic functioning may have a direct effect on deaf childrenís ability to retain basic immediate information.
  2. Oral ability is related to STM performance.
  3. Increase in verbal rehearsal increases STM.
  4. Deaf children have a greater reliance on visual-spatial memory.
  5. Deaf children have shorter spans of STM.
Long Term Memory (LTM): Marschark, (1993)
  1. In order to learn material it is important to label what you are learning.
  2. Language fluency, either verbal or sign, increases LTM.
  3. Deaf children do organize their LTM differently than hearing children.
  4. Deaf children may be limited to memory strategies and in their knowledge about what, when, and how of an effective strategy.

Furth, H. G. (1966). Thinking without language. New York: Free Press.

Piaget, J. (1951). Play, dreams, and imitation in childhood. New York:

W. W. Norton.

Marschark, M. (1993). Psychological development of deaf children. New York:

Oxford University Press.


  1. Teachers are able to adjust teaching strategies to accommodate for problems with short term memory.

  2. Parents will be better able to relate more effectively with deaf child when understanding of how the child processes information is comprehended.

  3. Parents can accommodate parenting strategies to help better work with children in home.

  4. Teach can adapt discipline styles to work with students.

  5. Educators and support professionals can assist parents and children to create stronger bonds by helping family to relate to each other more effectively.

  6. Educators can begin to recreate curriculum in order to enhance deficits and work on strengths with children.
Bibliographies/Additional Readings:

Bornstein, M.H., & Sigman, M.D. (1986), Continuity in mental development from infancy.

Child Development, 57, 251-274.

McCall, R.B. (1989). Commentary. Human Development, 32, 172-176.

Flavell, J.H. (1982). On cognitive development. Child Development, 53, 1-10.