Project allows students to observe behavior

A wide-eyed 2-year-old sucking on a slobbery cherry sucker was placed in a solitary desk in the hallway. In front of him on a plate is a large squishy marshmallow. He is told not to eat the marshmallow, and then his older cousin left him alone and stood in the classroom peeking out the doorway behind him. Will he leave the gooey temptation alone? 

Walking into room A101 at Lincoln North Star High School, there were 16 similar stations scattered around the classroom. All of them are designed to assist students in John Clark's summer human behavior class in observing not just any human behavior, but the intricate workings of a child's reasoning.

During this activity, each student designed a station for children between the ages of 2-13 that could test their cognitive skills, how they react to situations, and why. Questions ranged from math problems, to testing short-term memory, naming parts of the body, or to draw a house. At one station, the children were asked to tell the observer a story. This was set up to test imagination, complexity and coherence.

During the moral reasoning station, students are told a story about a loved one being ill. The loved one needs a medicine at the drug store down the street, but can't afford it, nor can they ask friends for assistance. What does the child choose to do? After the child's answer is given, the story changes. The loved one will die without the medicine. Now what will the child do?

The high school students brought their younger siblings and family members to class, the students then watched and recorded results as the children rotated through each station and completed each task. Their findings are then compiled and written into a report and shared with the rest of the class.


Published: July 1, 2015, Updated: July 7, 2015