We have used one or more of three Piagetian tasks to assess the level of cognitive development of primary school children. The three tasks are:
• Conservation, which has to be administered individually and is suitable for the youngest children
• Spatial Perception which can be given to up to six children at a time up to about Year 4, or to a whole class of Year 5s
• Volume and Heaviness which is suitable for Year 5 upwards and can be administered to the whole class.
All of these tasks are criterion-referenced (see Chapter 10). For each child they yield a level of cognitive development on the scale Preoperational — Early Concrete — Middle Concrete —Mature Concrete — Concrete Generalisation — Formal Operational.
With the caveat that no psychometric test is a perfectly valid measuring instrument, these stage levels do indicate the child’s general level of thinking which he or she can apply across all academic tasks. Summaries of these tasks are presented below.