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Title: The role of task variables on young children's ability to use spatial coordinates
Author: Cochran, Jane M. A.
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2006
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Recent work by Lidster & Bremner (1999) and others (Blades & Spencer, 1989; Lidster, 2002) indicates that young children are capable of both interpreting and constructing Euclidean coordinate references and that differences in performance may exist both between these tasks and within these tasks according to the position of the target relative to the cues to location. This thesis reports a series of experiments that were conducted to explore the basis for these differences and to examine developmental trends in the acquisition of Euclidean coordinate reference systems using analysis of both correct responses and errors made in performing these tasks. Experiments One to Three examine the effects of scoring criteria, response demands and dimensionality on performance in construction and interpretation tasks amongst three-and-a-half- to six-year-old children. The results suggest that developmental changes in accuracy are present and that response demands and biases may to some degree explain differences in performance between and within tasks. These biases are also age dependent. Experiments Four to Six further examine the reasons for differences in performance by manipulating factors such as the presence of distracting non-target objects, scale and response characteristics. It was found that when children's responses are not constrained by the nature of the equipment used in the earlier studies, construction and interpretation of Euclidean coordinates does not occur to the same degree, In contrast children of this age group appear to favour construction and interpretation of cues to location that are non-Euclidean and show distinctly different responses to those observed in earlier studies giving support to the idea that a true grasp of Euclidean space is not present in early childhood and that young children highly reliant on some form of perceptual support for correct performance.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available