The following document was filed by J.S. Cambry (ABD), bioethics student on January 17, 2423
From Do B Children Lack Cognitive and Creative Proficiencies? A Critical Evaluation of the WorldEducate Study
Behavioral Biology in B Society, Sept. 2405; 41(2): 45-68
Department of Child Development, University of Michigan
Senior Research Fellow, Subgroup B Research Society
A recent study conducted by the James-WorldEducate Research Institute (Anders et al., 2406) is being proclaimed as the first definitive proof of the cognitive deficiencies in B children. In this paper, we explore whether or not this conclusion is reasonable by analyzing the methodological soundness of this study. We posit that there are four methodological drawbacks weakening the study’s conclusions: (1) a failure to account for the subjects’ initial lack of familiarity with the testing format, (2) a failure to account for the respective emotional conditions of the test subjects, (3) a lack of understanding of the learning styles typically found in B schools or homes, and (4) a failure to align the tests to these learning styles. Although there are cognitive differences between B and A children due to divergent paths of genetic development, the WE study does not provide any significant proof of these cognitive differences or deficiencies. However, further investigation, using our proposed methodologies, should mitigate the flaws of the WE study and help researchers understand the creative and cognitive abilities of B children.
Summary and Conclusions
Anders et al. should be commended for conducting this study since a comparative examination of the cognitive powers of subgroup A and B children has not been conducted since the early 2300s. Although this study has been widely accepted as the first demonstrative proof of the intellectual limitations of subgroup B children, a number of methodological weaknesses call into question the validity of these findings.
First, numerous studies (including Anders et al.) have cited the difference in technological exposure and access within subgroup A and B communities. In other words, technology is not a ubiquitous presence in subgroup B communities as it is in subgroup A academies and homes. Consequently, subgroup B children are, to some degree, technologically illiterate. Hence, presenting these children with computerized tests shortly after their removal from subgroup B communities cannot provide accurate results. We recommend that testing of subgroup B children only occur following a nine to twelve month period in the WorldEducate facilities. During this time, these children should be shown the HMT, GCCB, and DCA in informal settings which will allow them to gain technological literacy. If the assessments are given after this period, we believe the results will be more indicative of the actual cognitive skills in subgroup B children since the results will no longer be tainted by test or cultural bias.
Second, the emotional state of subgroup B children was not taken into account prior to the test administration. According to the relocation permits for the subgroup B children tested in the Anders et al. study, each child was tested two to three days following their arrival at WorldEducate facilities, allowing no time for the child to acclimate to new surroundings. Though it is difficult to surmise the precise emotional state of each child, it is reasonable to assume that these children would be experiencing elevated stress levels. Relying on a body of work that has examined how extreme emotional states and high stress negatively affect problem solving skills (Gunderson and Usury, 2384; Halloran et al., 2391), we recommend that any new study be conducted only after the child has displayed a substantial level of comfort at their home facility. This waiting period will ensure that the results of the assessments are measuring true cognitive abilities.
Third, Anders et al. failed to understand that the results of their testing were not a reflection of curricular rigor or a lack thereof. Instead, the ostensibly poor test scores of subgroup B children are a reflection of their unfamiliarity with a particular learning style. Subgroup B children typically depend on their senses, especially touch, when acquiring new knowledge (Borgolini 2387). Accordingly, the curriculum in subgroup B schools primarily uses various forms of physical or kinesthetic learning (Kara, 2399). When presented with information in this style, subgroup B children learn new information without difficulty and, furthermore, also have been shown to respond quickly and creatively to new challenges and stimuli (Jansen, Gundersen, and Rosen, 2401). The testing format used by Anders et al. prioritizes visual skills, a learning style that is more familiar to subgroup A children since it is used more commonly in their academies. Therefore, it is no surprise that subgroup B children tested poorly when compared to subgroup A children. While the HMT, GCCB, and DCA are the most commonly used cognitive assessments, there have recently been other tests created that make use of different learning styles. In order to ensure proper results, we recommend that these new testing formats are used in future studies.
In conclusion, given the aforementioned methodological problems, we caution against the continued usage and citation of the Anders et al. study in scientific, political, and legal realms as the results of this study are misleading and potentially inaccurate. While there may be some truth to the claim that there is a statistically significant difference between the cognitive abilities of subgroup A and B children, only sound, well-controlled research can address to what extent these claims are factual. We hope that by applying our recommendations, future research will avoid the methodological pitfalls we noted in this study and will help us come to a better understanding of the intellectual and creative capacities of both subgroup A and B children.