Now it’s winter, and soon the new year’s bell will ring. The KIT research team will work harder next year and share more research findings with our readers.

This issue has several items of interest, including an introduction to Growing up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), some KIT research findings, a brief profile of Prof. Shin-min Wang and Prof. Jun-Ren Li, an overview of cognitive functions, and a book review of The Smallest Gift of Christmas, a picture book about a boy taking an outer space journey to search for a better gift.


Growing up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC)

The LSAC is a longitudinal research project jointly conducted by the Department of Social Services, the Australian Institute of Family Studies, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics. It started in 2003, and its purpose is to investigate how society, economic status, and culture contribute to the development of approximately 10,000 young people in Australia over their life course from early childhood. The LSAC is based on ecological theory, a bioecological framework of human development. According to the theory, both the immediate and broader environment, including family, school, and community, has impact on children’s physical and mental development. Thus, the LSAC focuses on research questions in relation to topics such as family, child care, and child development.

The modes of data collection include face-to-face interviews, questionnaires, and development assessment like cognitive test, Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children. Two cohorts of children participated in at the start of the study: infant cohort aged 3-15 months and child cohort aged 4-5 years. Data are collected from these children every two years until they are 14 or 15 years old. A wide range of research areas about child development is explored, such as family demographics, social-emotional skills, cognitive development, language development, and child behavior. Data derived from the LSAC can be used not only to inform social policies of Australia but also to identify opportunities for early intervention and prevention strategies. Please visit for more information about the LSAC.


Highlight of KIT Findings

Cognitive development: The child knows the association between visual and auditory information of a toy. For example, when you imitate a barking dog, the child can look at or point to a dog or an image of a dog.

Children at 3 months of age (N=6567)

[Proficient: 3%, Intermediate: 6%, Beginning: 7%, Not yet: 85%

Children at 6 months of age (N=6725)

[Proficient: 13%, Intermediate: 12%, Beginning: 15%, Not yet: 59%


Language development: The child can point at an object that he/she wants to get.

Children at 3 months of age (N=6563)

[Proficient: 0%, Intermediate: 1%, Beginning: 2%, Not yet: 97%

Children at 12 months of age (N=6866)

[Proficient: 48%, Intermediate: 18%, Beginning: 17%, Not yet: 17%


Physical-motor development: The child can roll by themselves (e.g., from supine to a prone position or from prone to a supine position)

Children at 3 months of age (N=6568)

[Proficient: 2%, Intermediate: 4%, Beginning: 18%, Not yet: 76%

Children at 6 months of age (N=6734)

[Proficient: 75%, Intermediate: 11%, Beginning: 10%, Not yet: 4%


Social-emotional development: Does this child still use a pacifier?

Children at 3 months of age

[Yes: 66.5%, No, not anymore: 3.1%, No, the child has never used a pacifier.: 30.4%

Children at 6 months of age

[Yes: 59%, No, not anymore: 7.6%, No, the child has never used a pacifier.: 33.4%

Children at 36 months of age

[Yes: 14.9%, No, not anymore: 44.8%, No, the child has never used a pacifier.: 40.3%


Responses from parents:

Q1. On average, how much time each day does the child spend on watching TV or using electronic products?

Children at 3 months of age

[None: 88.3%, less than 1 hour: 9.7%, more than 1 hour: 2.1%

Children at 36 months of age

[None: 2.2%, less than 1 hour: 13.4%, more than 1 hour: 84.4%

Other than TV, on average, how much time each day does the child spend on using electronic products (e.g., a personal computer, a tablet computer, or a smartphone)?

Children at 3 months of age

[None: 97.7%, less than 1 hour: 2.1%, more than 1 hour: 0.2%,

Children at 36 months of age

[None: 24.4%, less than 1 hour: 53.8%, more than 1 hour: 21.9%

Q2. On average, how much time each day does the child spend on watching TV (including all kinds of recorded media, such as DVDs)

Children at 3 months of age

[None: 89.3%, less than 1 hour: 9.9%, more than 1 hour: 0.8%,

Children at 36 months of age

[None: 5.5%, less than 1 hour: 37.3%, more than 1 hour: 57.2%


Responses from caregivers:

The three-year-old child should obey all the rules I set.

[Agree: 57%, Disagree: 43%

When I point out the three-year-old child child’s mistakes, he/she must not talk back.

[Agree: 20%, Disagree: 80%

The three-year-old child should be thankful for what I have done for him/her.

[Agree: 39%, Disagree: 61%


About Prof. Shin-min Wang and Prof. Jun-Ren Li

Prof. Shin-min Wang is Associate Professor of Department of Human Development and Family Studies, NTNU. Her academic interests include cognitive development (working memory, executive function) and literacy development.

Prof. Jun-Ren Li is Associate Professor of Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling, NTNU. His research expertise covers cognitive neurology, reading disorders, and reading development.


An overview of cognitive functions

1. What are cognitive functions?

Cognitive functions are the skills that children need to understand the world, which cover the areas of memory, attention, language abilities, and problem solving abilities. There are different types of memory, and memorizing something is different from manipulating the information we store in mind. Take the multiplication table for example. It’s easy for children to memorize its content, but it’s not that easy for them to solve a math problem by applying their memory of the table. In fact, children need short-term memories if they want to hold the information – the multiplication table –for a little while, but working memory is required when children want to solve a math problem with the multiplication table they remember. To convert short-term memory into working memory or even long-term memory, we can encourage children to make connections between the information they want to memorize and their real-life experiences for consolidation.

2. Are cognitive functions and intelligence two identical concepts?

Not exactly. Intelligence can be compared between two children of the same age group by administering a standardized test. However, a child’s development and learning is a factor that might have an impact on his/her performance in taking the intelligence test. Children who develop slowly might obtain a lower intelligence test score.


3. Can intelligence be changed?

Intelligence is malleable and can be developed. The environment people are in can affect their intelligence. Therefore, it is important to offer children an environment that is helpful for their intelligence growth. The research conducted by PISA (the Programme for International Student Assessment) suggests that the environment young children are in before they attend school has an enormous impact on their academic performance in the future. Another study confirms the importance of a childcare setting that is rich in language – there are obvious connections between children’s language growth and the vocabulary that caregivers, including parents and teachers, use when they have a conversation with children. The everyday language used in different settings – such as family, community, and school – can have a cumulative effect on children’s language development.


Book Review

The Smallest Gift of Christmas, a picture book written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds, is a story about a young boy who sets off to find a bigger gift after being disappointed by the size of his Christmas present but soon discovers what is important in life: his family. Its English version is available at Amazon (, and readers can find its Chinese version at ( Click to listen.