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Minority Students in Special and Gifted Education
role of culture and context in the development and assessment of intellectual abilities. One line of work, termed here cross-cultural psychological research, has focused on the influence of factors related to culture and context on testing and on cognition more generally. The other line of work is from a more traditional psychological or psychometric orientation and is focused somewhat more directly on issues of test bias and cultural bias in standardized assessment batteries, including IQ and intellectual ability measures.
Cross-Cultural Psychological Research on Cognitive and Intellectual Ability
Rogoff and Chavajay (1995) have traced the development of crosscultural psychological research over the past three decades. Initially much attention was directed at the exploration in other cultural settings of the robustness of cognitive tasks developed in the United States and in Europe. Emanating from a Piagetian perspective, a great deal of this work investigated the claims of universality of the stages of intellectual and cognitive development (Dasen, 1977a, b; Dasen and Heron, 1981). A clear finding is that people in many cultures did not reach what is called the formal operational stage without having had extensive experience in school (Ashton, 1975; Goodnow, 1962; Super, 1979). Characteristics assumed intrinsic to child development were found to be context dependent.
In the attempt to understand this variation, many investigators began to examine the power of situational contexts of testing and the issue of subjects’ familiarity with test materials and concepts (Irwin and McLaughlin, 1970; Price-Williams et al., 1969; Ceci, 1996; Gardner, 1983; Lave, 1988; Nuñes et al., 1993). Cross-cultural settings were particularly productive for this purpose (Posner and Barody, 1979; Dasen, 1975; Carraher et al., 1985; Ceci and Roazzi, 1994; Nuñes, 1994). Several studies documented clear differences across cultures in people’s ability to sort objects into taxonomic categories (Cole et al., 1971; Hall, 1972; Scribner, 1974; Sharp and Cole, 1972; Sharp et al., 1979). Those whose experiences were not rooted in Western schooling tended to sort objects into functional categories rather than into more abstract conceptual taxonomies. In tasks thought to tap into logical thinking, often employing logical syllogisms, non-Western subjects often refused to accept the premise of the task, preferring to confine reasoning and deduction to immediate practical experience rather than hypothetical situations (Cole et al., 1971; Fobih, 1979; Scribner, 1975, 1977; Sharp et al., 1979). When the task was modified to focus on immediate and familiar everyday experience, non-Western subjects were able to make judgments, draw conclusions, and exhibit other features of