Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Dr. Gary Y. Larsen
As water is poured from one container to another, its quantity remains unchanged, no matter what size or shape of container it is poured into. Similarly, five objects do not become more or less simply because they are grouped together or spread apart. Quantity remains invariant—is conserved—under such irrelevant transformations. Interestingly enough, Paiget (1952) has shown that children below the age of six or seven fail to manifest any understanding of conservation. Such children indicate, for example, that if the water in a standard container is poured into a narrower, taller container it becomes “more” water because it rises to a higher level in the comparison container. However, at some point in their cognitive development, these same children will reverse their earlier judgment and maintain quite steadfastly that the amount of water has not changed simply because it looks different.
Welsh, David J., "The development of compensation and conservation: Young children's understanding of number, length, and liquid quantity." (1978). Student Work. 3538.