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Educating Deaf StudentsFrom Research to Practice$
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Marc Marschark, Harry G. Lang, and John A. Albertini

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195310702

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195310702.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 28 October 2021

Cognitive Development and Deaf Children

Cognitive Development and Deaf Children

(p.113) 6 Cognitive Development and Deaf Children
Educating Deaf Students

Marc Marschark

Harry G. Lang

John A. Albertini

Oxford University Press

There is a long history of investigations reporting that deaf children lag behind hearing peers in learning, problem solving, and creativity. In this chapter we describe the kinds of evidence that led to such conclusions and the extent to which they appear to be valid today. Early research concerning cognitive development in deaf children often was aimed at understanding intellectual growth “in the absence of language.” Other investigations involved tasks that required comprehension of English or histories of reading. More recently, we have come to understand that both kinds of evaluation might be biased against deaf children. Still, ways in which deaf children’s atypical histories of language functioning and educational experience might influence their cognitive development are largely unexplored. There have been a variety of studies dealing with deaf children’s cognitive skills, and especially memory, sometimes including consideration of language fluencies and degree of hearing loss. More recently, various tests of cognitive ability have been developed that are nonverbal in nature or can be administered through sign language. The extent to which those tests accurately reflect the thinking skills of deaf children still remains poorly understood, as does the question of whether such tests tap the same skills that they do in hearing children. Further, some people still make the appealing but dubious assumption that cognitive development is essentially the same for deaf and hearing children (see Braden, 2001; Marschark & Lukomski, 2001, for discussion). Studies of intelligence and academic abilities of minority and underprivileged children during the 1960s and 1970s led to a concern about the lack of cultural fairness in testing. It was recognized at the time that the nature of children’s early environments could influence later performance on intelligence measures and academic achievement. This issue was never adequately addressed with regard to deaf children, most of whom clearly have early childhood experiences that could cause differences in test performance. As a result, deaf children were often described as “deficient” or as “concrete, literal thinkers” who were unlikely to be able to grasp the kinds of abstract concepts necessary for academic success.

Keywords:   abstract thinking, brain trauma, classification, distraction, flexibility, intelligence, learning, mathematics, nature-nuture, parent-child communication, reading

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