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LeeAnne Neilson

FCS 5230
Final Paper
PART I
What is a complex attentional structure and how is it related to assimilation and
accommodation?
Complex attentional structure is a theory which focuses on increasing our cognitive
abilities through constancy and change. It is similar to Piagets cognitive process of assimilation
and accommodation because the theory is about balancing existing information with new
knowledge. Assimilation is like constancy because you will place new information into an
existing schema. Accommodation is the change aspect to complex attentional structure because
it will create a new schema for the knowledge obtained.
What is an integrated and differentiated system?
An integrated and differentiated system combines two seemingly different focuses of
strengths and requires an individual to learn harmonizing techniques. Integration involves being
part of the group, whereas differentiation is where an individual realizes that they are unique and
can act alone. In this system, an individual learns that in order to increase their skill they must
learn from an individual who has obtained more knowledge in a particular area of focus. Once
they have mastered the basic concepts of an area of focus, then the individual can use the
differentiated side of this system in their own uniquely creative way to bring something new into
the world like a new medicine, theory, or masterpiece.
Why is flow a motor for the development of talent?
Flow is being engaged in a consuming and pleasant activity to the point of being
oblivious of your surroundings, state of fatigue, or passage of time. A flow activity is enjoyable
because of the underlining challenging nature involved in the task of your choosing. It is a

motor for the development of a talent because it engages an individual in accepting the necessary
work required to master a task in order to become proficient in a particular area of focus.
How did flow affect adolescent talent development?
Flow encourages repeatability if an individual finds enjoyment in accomplishing the task.
Adolescents live in a world of instant gratification, and talent development is not instantaneous.
Becoming engrossed in an activity and then reflecting on how it made you (the adolescent) feel
is crucial in developing the mindset necessary for increased motivation to cultivate a talent that
might take years to become proficient at.
What is the significance of domains, fields, and persons in the development of talent?
Talents can be developed based on the encouragement one receives in their cultural
domains, social fields, or personal intrinsic motivation. The culture must first acknowledge and
recognize that the talent is valued and needed and then create a place where the talent can be
developed in a stimulating, rewarding, and recognized field. This will then lead to mentors who
possess valuable knowledge and will guide the teenager in developing their talent.
How did the personality traits of talented teenagers differ from typically developing
adolescents?
Compared to the typical adolescents, talented teenagers are motivated and disciplined to
develop their skills. They are also curious, receptive to new information, have a strong desire to
excel, and are willing to endure and sacrifice to obtain their objective.
How did those traits related to assimilation and accommodation?
These traits relate to assimilation and accommodation because they help create an
optimal balance. The characteristics encourage the acceptance of new information and a
willingness to work on deficiencies in order to master a skill. They also possess the ability to
make connections in their brains as to why the new information is relevant in increasing their
abilities.
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What is an autotelic person?


An autotelic individual will complete a task for the purpose of accomplishing the task
itself. The person is usually self-directed or intrinsically motivated, which allows them to sustain
the energy needed to finish the task. Individuals who have this characteristic will often have
flow experiences because they will seek for challenging tasks that will increase their talent.
What were the key time use differences between talented and typical adolescents?
The average teen will spend more time engaging in social activities with a group of peers
compared to the talented adolescents who selectively limit their social activities and tend to
spend more time with their parents. They also watch more TV, spend more time listening to
music, and being alone than the average teen. They tend to engage in activities that require
focused attention and skill such as art, math, and science. Average teenagers will spend more
time than talented teenagers doing household chores or have a job. One reason for this
difference in lifestyles is that living a more disciplined lifestyle tends to encourage an individual
to develop their talent.
How was the concept of neoteny used in the book to help explain talent development?
Neoteny is the concept where human children depend more on their parents for survival
needs compared to other mammals. Talented teenagers will rely for a longer period of time on
their parents for basic survival needs while they devote their time to pursuing their talent
compared to the average teenager.
What is embodied education?
Embodied education is connecting together emotional and mental cognition in a subject
manner. In many traditional schools, there is a division between subjects that are deemed as
highly cognitive and goal oriented and others that are labeled highly emotional and expressive.

By creating a balance between the two, students will view the subject as important and become
highly involved.
What were key talent area differences in terms of quality of experience?
Adolescents focusing their talents in the areas of art and sports seemed to experience
intrinsic pleasure compared to those in the science and math areas who had less intrinsic
pleasure. The underlining thought for this difference is that science and math individuals felt a
pressure to develop their talent for the benefit of mankind. Those engaged in developing art or
sport talents did it for the pleasure of the activity or their own benefit.
How did family support and challenge affect adolescent talent development?
Family support plays a significant role in determining if an adolescent will develop their
talent. Parents provide financial assistance, transportation to domains, blocks of time, and
motivation. A lower family income negatively impacts opportunities for talent development. A
dysfunctional family unit will also hinder talent development.
How was support related to adolescents experience?
An adolescent needs to feel supported in their talent domain because of the great amounts
of energy and time required to develop a specific talent. If a teen can rely on an adult for
emotional, physical, and moral support, then when struggles arise and some of their selfexpectations are not meet, they have sources for helping them to refocus and not be defeated.
How was challenge related?
Challenge encourages teens to use their time wisely and cultivate the skill of selfdiscipline. A challenge oftentimes will lead to a sense of motivation when pursuing a talent.
Adolescents, however, need a stable environment where they feel supported and loved when
engaging in challenging new opportunities related to the development of their talent because this
complex balance provides the best stimulus for talent development.
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PART II
I believe that in order to enhance the quality of education for adolescents, educators need
to find ways to engage students motivation for learning, and one way we could do that is by
having math classes in middle and high schools to be less algebra based (Adolescence, John W.
Santrock, 339).
Andrew Hacker, a professor of political science at Queens College, argues that
mathematical reasoning in workplace differs markedly from the algorithms taught in school (Is
algebra Necessary, Andrew Hacker, par. 12). He estimates that only 5 percent of jobs in
America use advanced math. Sarah Garland, an executive editor of The Hechinger Report,
stated that most students are placed in algebra pathways when statistics or quantitative math
would be most appropriate to prepare them for their chosen programs of study and careers
(Americas math problem: Should we get rid of algebra?, par. 8). Thus, the current educational
system which highly focuses on advanced algebra for adolescents needs to be revamped.
It is important to understand how to use algebraic formulas, but students also need to
understand where the numbers come from and what they convey. Our [society] is fast becoming a
statistical age, which raises the bar for informed citizenship (Is algebra Necessary, Andrew Hacker,
par. 17). Roger C. Schank, a cognitive scientist and author of Teaching Minds: How Cognitive
Science Can Save Our Schools, argues that obtaining cognitive abilities is vital. He states, You
can live a productive and happy life without knowing anything about macroeconomics or
trigonometry but you cant function very well at all if you cant make an accurate prediction or
describe situations, or diagnose a problem, or evaluate a situation, person or object. The ability to
reason from evidence really matters in life, the names of famous scientists and their
accomplishments do not (No, algebra isnt necessary-and enough with STEM, Valerie
Strauss, par. 8).
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I agree with these individuals, especially since I have taken both college algebra and
college statistics. In comparing the two types of math, I feel that statistics is more applicable in
daily life situations and helps you become a critical thinker. Employers want critical thinkers.
The manner in which algebra is taught does not stimulate critical thinking abilities because it is
rote memorization. On the other hand, a masterful math teacher can easily engage adolescents in
statistical problem solving using situations that resonate with them or current news stories. My
statistics class has taught me to become a more informed citizen and to analyze research findings
before I automatically agree or disagree with what is being reported. Understanding how
statistics are derived can protect a teenager from becoming victimized by a false advertisement.
Algebra itself is not the problem, but how it is taught. It is perceived in our society that
the sooner we teach certain skills in life, the better off the child will be. However, this is not
true. According to Piagets four stages of cognitive development, seventh graders are technically
in the formal operational stage where they can think in more abstract ways but are not mentally
ready to handle algebra. This type of math needs to be simplified in order for seventh graders to
understand the abstract concepts, yet by pushing algebra down to lower grades [it] alienates
students who are able to grasp the concepts more easily, leaving fewer to be interested in
pursuing math, as evidenced by the decline in math majors according to Jacob Vigdor, a
professor or Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington (Americas math
problem: Should we get rid of algebra?, Sarah Garland, par. 10).
As a response to the criteria of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), schools have
lowered their overall mathematical standards for their student body. As a result, lowerfunctioning students are being brought up to their grade standards but advancement of higherperforming students has been allowed to languish. Designers of the nations mathematics
curriculum, in short, have fallen into an achievement-gap trap, raising the relative performance
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of average students in part by permitting the absolute performance of the best students to
decline (Americas math problem: Should we get rid of algebra?, Sarah Garland, par. 11). This
trend also eliminates possible flow experiences for the highest performing students because they are
not being challenged enough.
I feel that placing more emphasis on a math curriculum based on statistics instead of solely
algebra would get students interested in math because they would see how it is a useful skill in the
world in which they live. Statistics involves reasoning and deciphering of information to determine
the validity of the data being presented. More careers in todays world require the use of statistics
versus algebra. So, educators would be better preparing adolescents for emergence into adulthood if
they focused more on statistics instead of simply algebra.
Another way to enhance adolescent learning in the school system is to create classrooms
where there is a balance of direct instruction approach and constructivist approach. The
constructivist approach is learner centered and emphasizes the importance of individuals actively
constructing their knowledge and understanding with guidance from the teacher [whereas the] direct
instruction approach is structured and teacher centered (Adolescence, John W. Santrock, 340).
Because of NCLB, many classroom environments involve a teacher lecturing to the students and
students sitting passively. By having a combination of the two learning styles, students will be
able to see the use of the knowledge they are obtaining because they have become active
learners. In addition, the atmosphere in the classroom will be more inviting and encourage all
students to participate.
One way teachers can incorporate the constructivist approach to their teaching style is to
allow students to work in small groups during class time. After the teacher has completed the
lecture, time should always be provided for student engagement in the learning experience. This
could happen through specific assignments centered on the discussion. It does not have to be
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quiet time per se, but it is not socialization time. For example, students should be encouraged to
ask a peer for help regarding the concept recently taught. This will serve many purposes. It
creates opportunities for peers to teach peers. Oftentimes peers can explain concepts in a
different way from the teachers approach. Communication skills will be developed that are
essential in all aspects of life. Students will have to articulate their thoughts and engage in a
face-to-face two-way conversation. Also, having to explain a concept to another becomes a
personal measure of determining whether or not you understand the material. If an adolescent
cannot explain the course material to their peer, they probably have not sufficiently understood
the teachers explanation and need further clarification on the subject matter. Thus, working in
small groups teaches a teen to act and not be passive. You fail if you ignore a problem and do
not seek help.
Adolescent learning can be improved by providing more flow experiences in the
classroom. This can be done by allowing the students to take control of their learning and having
adequate time to complete a task. In addition, instituting more statistics into the math curriculum
will engage students in learning and better prepare them for lifetime careers. Lastly, by offering
more opportunities in the classroom to work in small groups, students will learn lifelong skills
and view learning as an enjoyable experience.

References
Garland, Sarah. Americas math problem: Should we get rid of algebra? The Huffington
Post, 21 Aug. 2012. Web 08 Apr. 2016.
Hacker, Andrew. "Is algebra necessary." New York Times 29 (2012).
Santrock, Jon W. Adolescence. 15th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill Education, 2014. Print.
Strauss, Valerie. No, Algebra Isnt Necessary-and Enough with STEM. Washington Post. 27
Aug. 2012. Web. 08 Apr. 2016.