Presentation at the 15.th ICCP Congress in Polen July 16-21. 2000

FACTORS INFLUENCING COGNITIVE STRUCTURES IN GHANAIAN CHILDREN

Bjarne Fjeldsenden
Dept. of Psychology,
Norwegian University of Science and Technology,
7491 Trondheim, NORWAY

E-mail: Bjarne.Fjeldsenden@svt.ntnu.no
Home page: http://www.sv.ntnu.no/psy/Bjarne.Fjeldsenden/
Page with cross-cultural articles and links her
Address after Oct. 01.2000:  Fjellveien 3, 3960 Stathelle, NORWAY
E-mail from year 2001:  bjarnefj@start.no
 

Abstract:

Culture moulds not only personality. Several studies have shown
differences in abilities between cultural groups. Some papers will
claim a correlation between strict child rearing practices and
poor spatial ability.

This study specified child rearing by using a checklist developed
by  Block. Data from a group of 83 Ghanaian teacher were
compared  with Norwegian norms.

There also exist one study from Singapore showing that language
plays a role in remembering digits and other studies showing
that repeating digits forwards and backwards are two rather
different processes.

Results on Ravens Progressive Matrices in different age groups
are mostly based on a standardization by former professor Bulley
of The University of Ghana, with at least 355 in each age group.
 
 

Some of the main results are as follows:

1: English children perform better, about 2 SD, on Ravens
Progressive Matrices than Ghanaian children

2: The difference between "Digit Forward" and Digit Backwards
is bigger in Ghanaian children compared with American and
Norwegian children.

3: Ghanaian children remember better digits read to them in
English than their local languages Twi and Ewe

4: Child rearing in Ghana is stricter than in Norway according
to data collected from 83 Ghanaian teachers with
Blocks child- rearing questionnaire
 

Factors contributing to the difference on Ravens test may be:

a: Malnutrition and/or undernourishment.

b: Lack of attention and stimulation from one year old.

c: Strict and overprotective child rearing practices.

d: Poor educational facilities.
 

Different factors influencing short term memory

a: The digits in Twi and Ewe are longer and harder to
pronounce and rehearse than those in English

b: Digits belong to modern life, not tribal society

The stricter child rearing practice in Ghana fits in with
the notion that people there are more field-dependent.
In such society is it more important to comply with
traditional norms than to show independence and individuality
 
 


WHAT THIS PRESENTATION WILL SHOW

RAVENS PROGRESSIVE MATRICES AND TWO DIFFERENT NORMS

English and Ghanaian norms compared.

Former professor Bulley of the Department of Psychology, University of Ghana at Legon, Accra has done a standardization of Ravens Progressive Matrices in 1973. A BA thesis from 1978 by Neal Boafo is referring to The Progressive Matrices As an Instrument for Determining Educability in Ghana (Bulley 1973) The Ghanaian means deviate a lot from those based on English and Norwegian samples as can be seen in the table below.

Table 1

Ghanaian and English norms for Ravens Progressive Matrices


Age N Ghana Mean Ghana

Raw score

IQ *

Ghana

Mean 

UK

Raw score

Mean

IQ*

UK

Difference UK-Ghana in S.D. Difference UK-Ghana in IQ S.D. Ghana
8-10 355 13.28   24   1.3   8.12
11-12 660 16.55   37   2.5   8.24
13 520 22.14   43   2.1   10.11
14 702 28.36 84 44 102 1.5 18 10.14
15 657 29.46 87         12.12
16 773 30.52 87         11.68
17 662 32.69 88         11.63
18 662 32.85 81         12.01
19 429 35.66 86         11.50
20 359 35.81 83 44 94 0.8 11 10.55
21-24 714 38.62 85 44 94 0.5 9 10.76
25-29 380 36.59 86 42 93 0.5 7 11.35
30+ 318 32.44 81 40 91 0.6 10 12.43

The IQ scores are based upon norms from Arbeidsrådgivningskontoret i Oslo (Occupational Counselling
Office in Oslo)

I have also collected some data in Ghana using Ravens Progressive Matrices and
got means close to those of Professor Bulley.
 
 

Table 2

Ravens Progressive Matrices
Hong Kong and British Children compared
Percentiles and raw scores for primary school 4 to 6 (9.5 to 11.5 years)
Percentile
95
90
75
50
25
10
5
Hong Kong 52 51 48 43 38 29 23
England (1979) 50 47 43 39 32 26 20
From S.H. Irving & J.H. Berry (eds.1988) p.347

The Hong Kong children equals british children 13 years old,
and are better  than any Ghanaian age group
 
 

Data collected by cand. polit. Lily Appoh i Ghana late 1998.

Two series of Digit Span: forwards and backwards with background variables

Comments to the table below

It is surprising that there is no differences between class 6 and 9 on Digit Span, neither forward or backwardwhile there are big differences between the same age groups on
Ravens Progressive Matrices.

The differences between digits forwards and backwards are clearly significant for
both series 1 and 2 (t=21,28 for serie 1 and 26.21 for serie 2).

                                                                 Table 3
Comparing class 6 and 9 and Digit Forward and Backwards
 
Class
N
Mean
SD
SD error
           
Age 
6
59
12,71
1,19
0,15
9
61
15,56
1,40
0,18
Digits Back-

wards serie1

6
60
3,65
0,58
0,07
9
62
3,65
0,68
0,09
Digits Back-

wards serie2

6
60
3,58
0,56
0,07
9
62
3,45
0,76
0,10
Digits For-

wards serie 1

6
60
5,68
0,93
0,12
9
62
5,94
1,08
0,14
Digits For-

wards serie 2

6
60
5,80
0,97
0,13
9
62
5,58
0,97
0,12
           
Education of

father

6
60
4,07
1,47
0,19
9
62
3,73
1,44
0,18
Education of

mother

6
60
3,29
1,33
0,17
9
62
2,98
1,12
0,14
Higher score indicates better education. Younger kids have better educated parents.
Sum of serie 1 of Digits
6
60
9,33
1,14
0,15
9
62
9,58
1,36
0,17
Sum of serie 2 of Digits
6
60
9,38
1,30
0,17
9
62
9,03
1,47
0,19
           
School achievment
6
60
3,22
0,67
0,09
9
62
3,24
0,76
0,10
Sex

F=1, M=2

6
60
1,42
0,50
0,06
9
62
1,48
0,50
0,06

 
 
 

Table 4

Comparing Digit Span when read in Ewe (2)and English (4)
 
 
t
df
Sig. (2-tailed)
English Ewe =
Level of significance
           
Digit backward

Serie 1

0, 329
120
0.743
3,67 – 3,63 =  
     
0,04
NS
           
Digit backward

Serie 2

2,188
120
0,031
3,653,38 =  
     
0,26
*
           
Digits forward

Serie 1

6,185
120
0,000
6,325,32 =  
     
0,99
***
           
Digits forward

Serie 2

4,475
120
0,000
6,055,32  
     
0,73
***

Pupils with Ewe as their mother tongue remember better when
digits are read to them in English than Ewe when they have to
repeat in the same sequence, but the results are more unclear
when it comes to say them in reverse order.

Lily Appoh who did the testing, speaks both English and Ewe
fluently.
 
 
 

                                              Table 5
                        Factor analysis.
        Varimax with Kaiser Normalization
VARIABLES F A C T O R S
N = 122
1
2
3
Digit Forward serie2 
0,75
   
Digit Backw. serie2
0,74
   
Digit Backw. Serie1
0,59
   
School Achievment
0,56
 
0,32
Class (6 or 9)  
0,93
 
Age  
0,91
 
Education of father    
0,82
Education of mother    
0,81
Digit Forward serie1
0,32
 
0,49

 

                                                                              Table 6
Factor analysis of 68 pupils in class 6 and 9 (3JJS) at Aburi, Ghana.

Digit Span
Factor 1 Factor 2 Factor 3
   Age and class  Digit Backwards  Digits Forwards
Age  0,925     
Class 0,917    
       
Digit Backwards Serie 2   0.892  
Digit Backwards Serie 1   0,844 0.226
       
Digit Forward Serie 1     0.876
Digit Forward Serie 2   0,268 0.819
       

Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis. Rotation Method: Varimax with
Kaiser Normalization. a Rotation converged in 5 iterations.

Comment: To remember digits forwards and backwards is partly two different processes. "Backwards" correlates with spatial aptitude and for some groups with intelligence.
 
 

Table 7
Child Rearing Questionnaire

Ghanian (N=83) and Norwegian (N= 373) data compared
Norwegian data from PH.D student Helle Anderson
Selected variables of Becks Child-rearing Questionaire Ghana Norway
  Mean Mean
CHILD04 Help child when teased 3.79 4.81
CHILD08 Wish partner more interested in our children  5.33  1.96
CHILD10 Keeping child away from different families 3,99 1,96
CHILD11 Keep away from rough games 5,14 4,09
CHILD12 Physical punishment give respect 2,58 1,39
CHILD13 Child should be seen and not heard 3,54 1,38
CHILD15 Express affection by hugging and kissing 4,58 5,75
CHILD18 Wish child did not grow up so fast 2,11 3,37
CHILD20 I find it difficult to punish child 2,60 4,22
CHILD23 I do not allow child not to get angry with me 4,11 2,07
CHILD24 My child is a bit of disappointment to me 2,24 1,08
CHILD25 I expect a great deal of my child 4,87 3,60
CHILD26 Easygoing and relaxed with my child 4,12 5,13
CHILD28 I am spoiling the child  1,48 3,91
CHILD42 Teach child to control his feelings 4,58 2,55
CHILD43 Keep away from fighting 5,23 3,99
CHILD47 Give extra privileges if behaving well 4,94 3,82
CHILD49 Too much love harmful 4,30 1,35
CHILD50 Scolding make child improve 3,42 1,83
CHILD51 Child should be aware of my sacrifice for him 4,69 1,81
CHILD52 Worried about health of my child 5,11 2,62
CHILD55 I like to have some time for myself  3,87 4,99
CHILD56 Ashamed if misbehaving 5,01 3,46
CHILD60 Instruct child not get dirty when playing 4,57 2,21
CHILD61 Punish jealousy and quarrelling between siblings 4,30 2,01
CHILD62 Learn not to cry at an early age 3,61 1,25
CHILD63 Control by warning about bad things  5,06 2,59
For more details click her
Likert-Scale 1-6: 1 = not at all descriptive of me, 2= not descriptive of me, 3= rather not descriptive of me,
4= to some extent descriptive of me, 5= descriptive of me, 6= highly descriptive of me

Most Standard Deviations are between 1 and 1.5, and the D-values would be close to the point differences
and they are all highly significant. More values than those in the table would be statistically significantly different.
 

Interpretation:
It looks as if the Ghanian child get as much nurture as the Norwegian
child,  but are more readily punished and required to control his
feelings. The control aspect seems much stronger in Ghana than Norway.
 
 

Table 8

Factor analysis of the Child-rearing Questionnaire
"Rotated Component Matrix. Varimax

Factor 1 Nurture and some control

CHILD41   ,701 Encourage child to talk about his troubles

CHILD40   ,686 Child knows that I appreciate

CHILD63  ,682 Control by warning

CHILD58   ,659 Know the whereabouts of the child

CHILD02   ,607 Encourage to do its best

CHILD18   -,604 Wish child didn’t develop so rapidly

CHILD45   ,542 Let child know when I am angry

CHILD51   ,530 Child should be aware of my sarifice

CHILD21   ,521 Let child take decisions on his own

CHILD08   ,514 Concerned with eating. What and when.
 

Factor 2 Control and responsibility

CHILD32   ,575 Give responsibility

CHILD28   ,512 Not spoiling the child

CHILD54   ,500 Don’t allow questions about decisions
 

Factor 1 may be called nurture and factor 2 control
 
 

Child rearing and the Ghanaian personality.

Most Ghanian may be described as friendly, peaceful, polite, hospitable with a
well developed social intelligence.

At the same time they may be described as lacking in initative, selfconfidence and
ability to organize and solve practical problems. A field dependent person.

The Ghanaian may be a good diplomate, Kofi Annan, a clever con-man but a
poor manager and engineer.

How is this related to child rearing?
 
 


DISCUSSION

Malnourishment and/or undernourishment

This can take various forms. It can be that the mother hasn’t got enough food when pregnant and this has affected the child in a negative way, or the child may have suffered from protein deficiency or have got too little food which have made it passive and thereby less active that again have effected learning in a negative way. Or it may not have got certain vitamins.
60% in Ghana are either undernourished or malnourished

Attention

When the child is about one year old it can manage most things on its own and the mother, is devoting less time to the child and the stimulation that this imply. The father seems to be a rather remote figure in most cases.

Lack of things to play with

The child has few things to play with that stimulates it in various ways.

Strict child rearing

This may discourage interaction with the physical environment in the form of play, sport etc., independence and curiosity. This reason has been mentioned in various publications.

Education

The kindergartens and schools are poorly equipped. Mostly they have only a blackboard, few books and no visual material such as pictures and maps. There is also very much a one way communication from teacher to the pupil. The teachers are poorly motivated and often absent from school. Their pay is such that they cant live by it and they have mostly extra activities going to support their family. Farming is very common in rural areas.

About the results on Ravens Progressive Matrices

From the first table above it can be seen that the discrepancy between the English and the Ghanaian norms is getting less with an increasing age. This can be interpreted as the Ghanaian is catching up, but the development is slower for one reason or another. The remaining 0.5 S.D. is in line with discrepancies found by Ph.D. student Benjamin Amponsah on spatial tests where he has been comparing Ghanaian and Norwegian teacher college students.

One important question is to know the particular samples professor Bulley has based his norms on. The samples in school age, up to around 16 years are a fairly representative according to Professor Bully (personal communication Jan. 98) while data from the older samples mostly were taken from people seeking either technical jobs or education. So the older age groups seem to be better educated than the average population.

Some of the scores in my sample are so low that the children would be classified as mentally retarded. What ought to be done is to investigate such cases more thoroughly. For instance after 2 or 3 years in school one could give a standardized reading- and writing test to see how many reached a certain level. Out from combined test results one could try to diagnose each case and try to find remedial measures.

Oral society and auditory short-term memory.

Ghana may be characterized as an oral society. There are normally no signs on buses telling where they are going, few road signs and few maps around. I had to search several weeks before I found a road map of Ghana. The driver and mate of the trotro, minibus, are shouting out their destination. The Ghanaian also seems to love music. Will this, that they attend so much to auditory information, also make them better in remembering auditory material? From my own data with congenitally blind it can be seen that they have a better short-term auditor memory than comparable groups. This may be explained by that they attend more to auditory material than sighted people. But one don’t find this among those that have become blind as grown up persons, which indicates that there may be a critical age when the brain is moulded with respect to processing auditory information. An additional factor that applies to Ghana is that almost everybody is bilingual. Will there be a difference if digits are presented in English or the local language? Some of my data indicate that children and adolescents remember better what is read to them in English than in Twi or Ewe. Why? Maybe because the English digits are easier to say and rehearse. This may be supported by that people often use to say numbers in English while speaking their local language. So to measure short-term auditory memory as in Digit Span, a subtest of WISC-R and WAIS, is not a straightforward matter.

My data from also indicate that among Ghanaian children there is a bigger difference between remembering digits forwards and backwards compared with American or Norwegian children.

China may be characterized as a visual society with all their characters which requires a good visual ability. So this may be a contributing factor to that the children in Hong Kong did so well on Ravens Progressive Matrices.
 
 

What are the Ghanaian children good at?

They seem to develop their musical ability together with a sense for rhythm and dance. Further, they seem to develop a good social intelligence. Ghanaians are very friendly, polite and hospitable. They have no major violent conflicts within their country which can be very damaging to a country and which has ruined several African countries.

Some ideas for future research.

It would be of great interest to use some selected tests in various parts of Ghana and characterize the areas with background variables related to environmental, nutritional, social, health and educational factors. WISC-R and Ravens Progressive Matrices could be two relevant tests.

Problem.

Why is Ghana, together with almost every African country, doing so poorly as far as income and living standard goes? Many will attribute it to that far more emphasis is put on social relation, particularly loyalty to their extended family, than on performing

a good job, being efficient. The employee is more concerned about pleasing his superior and not go against him than showing initiative and independence. This is related to both collectivism and a great power distance. Gert Hofstede was showing a correlation of 0.82 between individualism and Gross Natural Product in 1970, and a correlation of 0.77 between distance from equator and GNP.

Another factor is the ability to acquire knowledge related to modern technology like mathematics and engineering subjects. Many, Luria i.e., claim that there is a positive correlation between spatial aptitude and mathematical ability. Thus, it may be postulated that the Ghanaian culture is not giving a very good basis for acquiring knowledge related to modern technology, and this again may be related to child rearing and other factors mentioned above.

Reference:
See my cross-cultural page her
 

QUESTIONS

What are the educational and economical consequences
of a culture with this child-rearing practice?

How well is this society equipped to exploit modern technology
compared with countries like Japan and Singapore?

What are the political consequences?

How does it affect the society?

What can be done to implement changes?

Who should decide what with respect to changes
and on what grounds?

How can knowledge from this type of study be used together
with other theories, i.e. in economics?
 
 
 
 

The following abbreviations for the variables have been used:

Subject- subject number-3 digits

Sex- 1= girls, 2= boys

Age- years old

Class- 6 or 9

lschool-language used in school

emother- educational level of mother-1-7 scale-higher is better

ef-- educational level of father-1-7 scale-higher is better

cschool- if the child has had continuos schooling. 1=no, 2= yes

lhome- language spoken at home. 2= ewe, 4= english

aeng- age at which the child started to learn english.

ot- does the child speak other language(s), 1=no, 2=yes

lan- which other language than his mother tongue

df1- number of digits remembered backwards in serie 1

db1- number of digits remembered backwards in serie 1

s1-sum of df1+db1

in1- the digits in serie 1 read in either twi=2 or english=4

df2- number of digits remembered backwards in serie 2

db2- number of digits remembered backwards in serie 2

s2-sum of df2+db2

in2- the digits in serie 2 read in either twi=2 or english=4 read

sa – school achievment-1-5 point scale

place-1: Etordome-a village, 2: Ho a town, a regional capital
 
 

The most frequent language codes:

1= twi- the most commons local language of Ghana

2= ewe-spoken by about 10% of the population of Ghana

3= Ga- the local language of Accra, the capital

4= english, the administrative language of Ghana