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Title page for ETD etd-07112013-221117


Type of Document Dissertation
Author Frankel, Sarah Anne
URN etd-07112013-221117
Title Scientific Reasoning Ability and Children's Learning of Skills Taught in Cognitive Therapy
Degree PhD
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Judy Garber, Ph.D. Committee Chair
David Cole, Ph.D. Committee Member
Kirsten Haman, Ph.D. Committee Member
Steven Hollon, Ph.D. Committee Member
Keywords
  • cognitive behavior therapy
  • cognitive development
  • scientific reasoning
  • depression
Date of Defense 2013-06-27
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
Limited attention has been paid to the developmental demands of cognitive therapy (CT) for youth depression. Extant research examining the relation between “development” and therapeutic efficacy has used age as a rough estimate of cognitive development (Doherr, Reynolds, Wetherly, & Evans, 2005). The current study examined whether scientific reasoning, an important aspect of children’s cognitive development, predicted ability to learn CT techniques, over and above age. Participants were 225 children (58.7% male), ages 9 to 16 (Mean = 12.84; SD = 1.91). Participants completed a measure of their knowledge of CT skills (KnoTS) and then engaged in a CT teaching session. Participants then completed a second form of the KnoTS to assess change in knowledge following the teaching session. Children were assigned homework and returned for follow-up (FU) one week later to complete a final form of the KnoTS. Scientific reasoning was measured using a modified Tschirgi Problem Set (CVS; Tschirgi, 1980) and the Epistemological Understanding Task (EUT; Kuhn et al., 2000). Linear regression analyses were conducted with CVS and EUT predicting knowledge (KnoTS) at post-teaching and FU, controlling for baseline knowledge, age, and IQ. Greater understanding of CVS for negative outcomes (CVS-negative) significantly predicted KnoTS scores immediately post-teaching and at FU. EUT significantly predicted increases in knowledge of CT techniques at FU. CVS-negative, CVS-positive, and EUT all moderated the relation between homework performance and retention of knowledge of CT skills at FU. Better homework performance significantly predicted retention of learning for individuals with less advanced reasoning, but not for those with more advanced reasoning. Overall, results indicated that cognitive development predicted learning of CT skills, over and above age. In addition, children with lower reasoning ability reached similar levels of learning as those with higher reasoning ability after engaging in effective practice of CT skills. Clinicians may benefit from measuring children’s reasoning ability before engaging in CT exercises to determine how a specific child is likely to respond to CT, and how much support and additional practice may be needed to help the child learn these skills.
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