AEPA Early Childhood Education Exam

AEPA Early Childhood Education Practice Questions

1. Piaget’s first stage of cognitive development involves:

A: Operations with concrete things
B: Sensory input and motor output
C: Operations with abstract things
D: Intuition and animism, not logic

2. Which behavior indicates a child has attained understanding of symbolic representation?

A: Seeking unseen things
B: Playing “make-believe”
C: Enjoying “peek-a-boo”
D: Addition using pennies

3. A young child, angry at one parent, momentarily wishes s/he would leave. Later, when that parent moves out as the couple separates, the child blames it on his/her earlier wish. Piaget called this:

A: Animism
B: Egocentrism
C: Magical thinking
D: Intuitive thinking

Answer questions #4–#9 based on this scenario:

A younger child watches you pour juice from a short, wide container into a tall, thin container and concludes there is more juice in the taller container because s/he sees the juice rising up higher in the glass. An older child concludes there is the same amount of juice either way, pointing out, “This glass is taller than the other one, but it’s also thinner. Besides, I just saw you pour it from that glass to this glass, so it’s the same amount no matter what the glasses look like.”

4. Which Piagetian cognitive ability has the younger child not attained that the older child has?

A: Object permanence
B: Volume conservation
C: Formal operations
D: Class inclusion

5. In which of Piaget’s stages of cognitive development is the younger child?

A: Sensorimotor
B: Concrete operations
C: Preoperational
D: Formal operations

6. In which of Piaget’s stages of cognitive development is the older child?

A: Preoperational
B: Concrete operations
C: Sensorimotor
D: Formal operations

7. Through which process identified by Piaget did the younger child most make his/her conclusion?

A: Intuition
B: Operation
C: Centration
D: Decentration

8. Which process identified by Piaget allowed the older child to make his/her conclusion?

A: Intuition
B: Centration
C: Classification
D: Decentration

9. The older child pointed out having observed the juice being poured from one container to another. If you then poured it back into the first container and the child used the same logic to conclude it was still the same quantity, which ability defined by Piaget would this demonstrate?

A: Object permanence
B: Conservation of number
C: Reversibility of operations
D: Secondary circular reaction

10. Which substage of cognitive development defined by Piaget typically occurs latest?

A: Coordination of Reactions
B: Tertiary Circular Reactions
C: Primary Circular Reactions
D: Secondary Circular Reactions

Answer key

1. B. Piaget’s first stage of cognitive development is called the sensorimotor stage. This is when infants respond to input they receive from the environment through their sensory organs by engaging in motor actions. When they realize how the environment then reacts to some of these actions, they respond again; this is called circular reactions. Operations with concrete things (A) occur during Piaget’s third stage called concrete operations. Operations with abstract things (C) occur during Piaget’s fourth and final stage called formal operations. Intuition and animism but not logic (D) occur during Piaget’s second stage, which he called preoperational.
2. B. When children engage in “pretend” or “make-believe” playing, as when they play “house” and pretend to be parents; pretend to be fantasy characters; or use toys to represent real persons, animals, machines, etc., they understand one thing can be used as a symbol to stand for something else, i.e., symbolic representation. When babies look for things they saw that were then hidden so they can no longer see them (A), they have attained object permanence. The emergence of this understanding that things out of sight still exist is also indicated by their enjoying playing “peek-a-boo” (C). (Infants without object permanence are truly surprised to see a hidden face reappear; those developing object permanence laugh with delight to see the face reappear; and those with fully developed object permanence may eventually lose interest in the game.) When children can add or subtract using pennies (D) or other concrete objects, this shows they have attained concrete operations, i.e., mental operations using concrete objects.
3. C. Piaget coined the term magical thinking to describe the illogical thought of young children when they believe their own internal thoughts or words cause external events to happen in the world. Animism (A) was what Piaget termed the belief of young children that inanimate objects have thoughts and feelings. Egocentrism (B) was what Piaget called the characteristic in young children of being unable to see things—literally and concretely, not just abstractly—from others’ perspectives, and their belief that the world revolves around them. Intuitive thinking (D) is how Piaget generally described the thought of preoperational children who are not yet able to think using logic.
4. B. The experiment described is like those Piaget conducted with children to prove his theory of cognitive development. Conservation is the realization that the amount of a substance (or the number of a collection of objects) remains constant despite differences in its appearance, like the volume of liquid regardless of the size and/or shape of the container holding it. Piaget found preoperational children, who cannot perform mental operations, do not understand this concept, while concrete operational children do. Object permanence (A) is the realization (usually by infants around 8–9 months old) that things still exist when out of their sight. Formal operations (C) involve the ability to perform mental operations with abstract concepts, unaided by having concrete objects to see and manipulate. Class inclusion (D) is the ability to categorize objects or concepts into groups based on common properties. Conservation and class inclusion both emerge during the stage of concrete operations.
5. C. The younger child cannot yet perform concrete operations like conservation of liquid volume, so this child is still in Piaget’s preoperational stage. Children in this stage think intuitively rather than logically. The sensorimotor (A) stage is when babies typically learn about the world by receiving sensory information from their environments, respond through motor activities, and learn more by discovering not only what their bodies can do, but also how the environment reacts to their actions. The stage of concrete operations (B) typically emerges in middle childhood, enabling children to perform logical mental operations like adding, subtracting, etc., by manipulating concrete objects. The stage of formal operations (D) typically emerges before or during adolescence, enabling children to understand and manipulate abstract ideas without the accompaniment of concrete objects.
6. B. The older child has reached the stage of concrete operations because s/he can understand by observing the juice being poured from one glass to another that the amount of juice has not changed even though the shapes of the containers differ. Children in this stage of cognitive development can think logically, as long as they can also perform the operation concretely using real objects, and can see real, concrete proof of that logic. Children in the preoperational (A) stage cannot yet perform mental operations, even when they have concrete objects to see and manipulate. Children in the sensorimotor (C) stage develop mentally through physical means, i.e., receiving sensory input and responding to it by creating motor output. Children in the stage of formal operations (D) can perform mental operations with abstract concepts, without needing any concrete objects to look at or to manipulate.
7. C. The younger child made his/her conclusion through the process of centration. Piaget coined this term to describe how preoperational children focus on only one property of an object at a time. In this case, the younger child observed only the height of juice in the taller, thinner container without noticing that it is narrower than the shorter, wider container. Similarly, preoperational children can see a cookie or an apple cut up into pieces and conclude the many pieces equal more than the single whole. Intuition (A) generally means knowing something without visible proof; Piaget called preoperational children’s thinking intuitive, meaning not logical. However, his term centration more precisely defines the process of centrally focusing on only one of an object’s properties. The process of an operation (B) is one Piaget found children cannot perform in the preoperational stage. Decentration (D) is the process children achieve when they no longer centrate on one property but can consider multiple aspects at once, in the stage of concrete operations.
8. D. The younger child demonstrated centration (C) by focusing on only the greater height of the juice in the thinner container compared to its lower height in the wider one. The older child demonstrated the process of decentration, which emerges during the concrete operations stage, by being able to attend to both height and width at the same time. The older child did not arrive at his/her conclusion via intuition (A) but logic. Classification (C) is the ability to group items by similarity.
9. C. When children first begin to think logically, they can perform mental operations related to concrete objects. Another feature of this development is what Piaget called reversibility, i.e., the ability to reverse an operation. For example, if a child can perform addition by adding more pennies or beads to a group while counting each new larger quantity, the child can then reverse this operation to perform subtraction, removing objects from the group while counting each new smaller quantity. Object permanence (A) refers to the understanding children typically develop during the sensorimotor stage that things they have seen still exist even when they no longer see them. Conservation of number (B) is Piaget’s term for conserving numerical quantity. For example, 12 pennies are still 12 whether spread far apart or clustered closely together. The scenario described involves conservation of liquid volume, not of number. Secondary circular reactions (D) comprise a substage of Piaget’s sensorimotor stage when children repeat actions purposefully.
10. B. From around 1–4 months of age, children engage in what Piaget called Primary Circular Reactions (C), wherein they may initially do something accidentally, and then repeat it later on purpose because they got pleasure from it before, like sucking their thumbs. From around 4–8 months old, children engage in Secondary Circular Reactions (D) by purposely repeating actions to interact with the environment, like picking up objects so they can mouth them. From around 8–12 months old, children are in the substage Piaget called Coordination of Reactions (A), when they perform actions with clear intention, like shaking a rattle to hear the sound. The latest substage, around 12–18 months old, is Tertiary Circular Reactions (B), when children experiment through trial and error to see what they accomplish, like which actions or sounds will best get parental attention. These are all Piaget’s substages of his sensorimotor stage of cognitive development.

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