Opportunity Structure and Cognitive Growth

Acuna, Jasmin Espiritu

     This research began with the practical problem of trying to understand wide, regional discrepancies in national achievement test results among adolescents in the Philippines." It examines "the possibility that the cultural milieu, particularly some economic aspects of that milieu affects the experiences of the adolescent in such a way that their capacities for abstract reasoning are affected." The dissertation "is a comparative study of the cognitive development of the adolescents in two strategically selected communities [in the Philippines]. The logic of a comparative study is the comparative testing of two subject groups differing only on one variable relevant to a theoretical framework. The relevant variable for this research . . . is the degree of opportunity that provides the subject groups with an exposure to different numbers of alternatives and different experiences in dealing with alternatives."
     Beginning with regional differences in science achievement, and associating these with regional differences in economic adaptation, this research identified two subregions where extremes of opportunity structure exist. The availability and diversity of occupational choice in one community, whose economy is based on enterprise and, in another community where there is an absolute dependence on agriculture and tenancy as a way of life, provide two extreme cases of opportunity structure."
     The first community . . . is in the heart of a coconut plantation, on the eastern slope of Mount Banahaw. . . . The second community . . . is a coastal barrio making up one of the settlements surrounding Laguna Bay.