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ABS402 - Cognitive Development in Adolescents Engaging in Subject-Focused Education

2.1 Learning and development in onsite communities and online spaces
4:30 PM, Wednesday 30 Aug 2017 (20 minutes)
An experimental study of the effects of the subject-focused education on the cognitive development of the ninth-grade adolescent students took place in two city schools (two classes focusing on Physics and Mathematics; two classes focusing on Natural Science), and a special education school (the closed type).
The study relied on the assumptions of the cultural-historical theory developed by L. Vygotsky regarding cognitive and personality development in adolescence:
- thinking is humans’ specific theoretical activity resulting from transforming the external practical activity into the internal, ideal form;
- the transition to conceptual thinking lays the basis for personality development in adolescence; mastering conceptual and logical thinking contributes to transforming cognitive and other mental functions and processes;
- adolescence is a crucial stage for the development of creativity due to an approximation of thinking and creativity and their convergence within a creative process.
The main findings showed that:
- The students of the Physics and Mathematics classes actively shaped mathematical thinking and spatial representations. However, their ability for mental image synthesis (relevant for generalization of scientific data) remained underdeveloped;
- The students of the Natural Science classes efficiently developed conceptual and categorical thinking, although the development of mathematical and creative verbal thinking was slightly inhibited.
Thus, the subject-focused education contributed to the strong development of most general, abstract types of thinking, which was nevertheless accompanied by an inhibition of some manifestations of creative thinking. Furthermore, the authors found a direct relationship between the functional structure of thinking in senior adolescence and the educational content and environment. 
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