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#450 - 12/06/08 10:04 PM D/deaf and H/hearing children's creativity & reasoning
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Registered: 10/09/07
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Comparing creative thinking abilities and reasoning ability of deaf and hearing children

While most research of creative thinking abilities has focused on hearing children, significant factors that may contribute to the creative thinking of deaf children are in need of further investigation.

Obviously, this is a natural thing. After all, how is a deaf child - of differing types and degrees and age of deafness - able to learn sign? And/or read? And/or use a language?

Consequently, deaf children have been less likely than their hearing peers to be screened, identified, and served by special programs to assess and develop their creativity (Whitmore & Maker, 1985). Failure to identify and serve deaf children with creative thinking abilities is an indictment.

Thus, seeing D/deaf children as "disabled" serves no purpose other than to put D/deaf children into a category that does not foster a recognition of ability. Nor does it recognize the different types of learning - visual, tactile, etc.... - that are engaged in in order to achieve learning. The subject matter of what it is that is being learned is imaterial. Thus, having a child learn to spell by writing in sand (for example) makes use of multiple forms of learning.

There are many cognitive abilities that relate to creative thinking abilities. The current research focuses on reasoning abilities for two reasons. First, there are some standardized nonverbal instruments to assess reasoning abilities. The instructions of these instruments can be delivered by using sign language and this provides valid assessment of the reasoning abilities of deaf children. Second, intervention programs to develop reasoning abilities could provide stable improvements in this area for deaf children.

Using sign to give the instructions is a valid method of giving information. The deafie needs to be instructed in how to complete the assessment in the language they are most comfortable with. That is, the instruction need to be provided in the person's natural language.

For example, the difference in language styles and/or types

...Guilford (1967), commonly used intelligence tests measure convergent forms of thinking. However, creativity involves divergent thought processes which account for 30 of the 150 factors of intelligence described by the structure of intellect model. Guilford was able to procedurally identify over 100 out of 150 factors through factor analysis.

This shows that there are many factors involved in the concept of "intelligence". With "intelligence" being highly conceptual and highly cultural it is hard to define and measure in such a manner that is inclusive of the differing types. In this manner a deafie may be labled in a manner that does not recognize their functioning nor their level of functioning.

Furth (1966) argued that cognitive ability of hearing and deaf people and their developmental patterns are essentially similar. He proposed that babies show evidence of mental activity and some forms of thinking before they learn to speak; therefore, they exhibit cognition without language.

For example, babies will visually recognize parents soon after birth. Yet, no language is required for this recogntion to occur. Some may say that this is a function of repetition with the baby having visual contact with parents more than with others. Yet, the baby is able to formulate a pattern whereby they have a recognition of parents and conceptualize a recognition of value, safety, comfort, and other positive emotions.

Children understand the world and make sense of what adults do and say according to their developmental levels. The nature of their understanding may be different from that of adults because their views of the world are naturally and fundamentally different.

The proposed study is based on the views of Piaget (1969) and Furth (1966) that language is not the foundation for thought.

The foundation of thought is more complex than solely the use of language. Language - in divergent forms such as written. oral, signed, etc... is an expression. While it may enhance or diminish the expression of the content, language is not content in itself.

Hence, deaf children, even if they lack facility with language, can be expected to develop the same nonverbal cognitive ability as their hearing peers (Bloom, 2001; Brown, 1991).

The development of nonverbal cognition is multifaceted in terms of influence - experience, observed experience, emotion, education of differing types, ideation, etc... As a result, nonverbal cognition is a form of learning that is not exclusive to any single sensory type and the expression of that cognition is not singular as well.

When forcing deaf children to rely on verbal communication, this action may confuse the children's misunderstanding of the directions with cognitive failure.

This is especially true when deaf children have formulated their world and understanding of their world through the use of personal nonverbal communication as well as the nonverbal communication of and by others. IOW, if a child bases an understanding of their world through the use of nonverbal communication, and they are suddenly told that doing this is not acceptable (which is a values judgement) the end result is a misunderstanding and a confusion.

-Creativity In Deaf Populations-

One aspect of measurement of creativity (or almost anything else) is that the means by which these measurements occur are standardized with the hearing population. There are very few nonverbal measurements of cognition and/or creativity. Consequently, statements as to the creative level of functioning within the D/deaf population are questionable. However, it may also be said that knowing two languages (in this case, ASL and English) as well as functioning in differing social groups may be a sign of intelligence. That is, social functioning and social adaptability may indicate creativity.

Research Design

Correlational research was chosen to conduct the investigation in this study because it allows a researcher to look for and describe relations that may exist among naturally occurring phenomena without trying in any way to alter these phenomena (Fraenkel & Wallen, 2000).

By interfering with that which occurs naturally, the measurements of those functions are skewed. This then, makes the results AND conclusions based on those resuts questionable.



Matrix Analogies Test-Expanded Form. Naglieri (1985) designed the Matrix Analogies Test-Expanded Form (MAT-EF) to assess nonverbal reasoning abilities of children (ages 5 to 17 years).

These results support the evidence that the MAT-EF has good reliability coefficients in deaf populations. A useful way of conducting validity studies is analyzing the latent construct of the instrument. Item factor analysis was used to analyze the MAT-EF scores in the deaf population in order to understand the test's latent construct and to confirm its validity. Results from the factor analysis provide evidence that the four item groups of the MAT-EF were designed to measure a single construct: nonverbal reasoning ability.

In analyzing the latent construct, item validity is determined. Thus, the applicability of a research instrument with any specific population is determined. This item validity varies among groups being assessed. As a result, the conclusions supposedly supported by results tend to have a degree of variability.

The four groups of items in the MAT-EF include: Pattern Completion, Reasoning by Analogy, Serial Reasoning, and Spatial Visualization.

1. Pattern Completion: This subtest requires that students choose one of four options that accurately complete a pattern.

2. Reasoning by Analogy: This subtest of items requires that the examinee investigate how the change(s) in one figure is (are) analogous to the change(s) in another.

3. Serial Reasoning: This subtest of items requires the student to discover the order in which items appear throughout a matrix

4. Spatial Visualization: This subtest of items requires the student to imagine how a figure would look when two or more components are combined.

This is an assessment of comprehension and ability. Further, this fits in with the principle of 'use more than one assessment more than once'. This has "large norming samples, valuable longitudinal validations, and a high predictive validity for a very wide age range." (Cropley)


Two teachers for the deaf children volunteered to help administer the instruments that were used in this study.

The order of testing was randomly assigned across deaf and hearing children. Both tests were administered in two different school days. After each administration session, candy, pencils, and notebooks were given to the children.

Randomization is essential in order to control for extraneous variables.


The findings of the multivariate analysis of variance revealed that there were no differences between deaf and hearing children in reasoning abilities. This result supports the finding of Martin (1989) that deaf learners depend on visual spatial perception and processing, and they are good at simultaneous visual processing. Also, this result supports some other previous research, which indicated that the cognitive development of young deaf children is comparable to that of hearing children of the same age (Al-Hilawani, 2000; Bond, 1987; Chovan, 1972; Craig and Gordon, 1989; Martin; Meadow, 1980).

Thus, the idea that D/deaf lack in reasoning ability is null and void. Of course, as visual persons it only serves that we are visual learners. With the integration of the entire world into one's individual conceptualization it helps to have D/deaf children see their place in both the Deaf world as well as the overall world.

Most obviously, deaf children as a group are more heterogeneous than hearing students.

Belonging to a distinct personal-community group allows for this. The variety of experiences - both personal and social - to which an individual is exposed helps the overall view of person, place, and time.

Based on the findings of the current study, there exists a need to improve assessment procedures used to assess the creative thinking abilities and reasoning abilities of deaf learners.

Obviously, this is true when considering that the the assessments are standardized with a hearing population. Further, many of the assessments themselves are measurements of functions whose norm is based on a hearing group.

Finally, -

Assessment of creativity in deaf children as well as hearing children should include: tests of divergent thinking; attitude and interest inventories; personality inventories; biographical inventories; ratings by teachers, peers, and supervisors; judgment of products; and self-reported creative activities and achievements.


Using assessments designed for and standardized with a D/deaf population is a recommended procedure. Doing so shows that the creativity and expression of that creativity within the D/deaf population is a naturally occuring phenomena. Does the creativity occure before the assessment? I think so! smile


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