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Title: Understanding and use of small-scale models as representations of large-scale spaces, in 3 to 6 year old children : an investigation of the effects of varying task and method
Author: Perry, Victoria Louise
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2000
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Spatial representations are external, physical entities, which are used to symbolise real world environments. These kinds of symbols provide information about the world, and shape the way that we think about it. Previous research into children's understanding and use of spatial representations has led to differing conclusions about how and when such abilities develop. This may be due to the diversity of different tasks and methods which have been adopted in the past. The aim of this thesis was to provide a systematic investigation of some of these tasks and methods, in order to establish whether they assess the same underlying abilities, and whether children perform similarly on all such tasks, using all such methods. A series of studies compared performance on two tasks - positioning and retrieval - and on two methods - inferring from a representation to a referent space, and from a referent space to a representation. Error data and time data were recorded in addition to success and failure. Results show that when target locations are completely concealed, levels of absolute success are similar on the two tasks. However, children take more time on the retrieval task, which may indicate a difference in the way they approach tasks presented in a familiar game format. Results also show that the two methods may not be equivalent. Performance under these two methods differs in younger children particularly. Familiarity with the referent space leads to improved performance when inferring from referent to representation, and to more sophisticated response strategies overalL. The presence of irrelevant material in either space does not affect performance. Results support the notion that some representational understanding can be achieved early in development, so representations of space can begin to be used from three years of age. However, despite this early achievement of representational understanding, deficits in spatial cognition mean that the ability to fully understand and use spatial representations is stil developing at 6 years of age.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Space perception in children ; Spacial ability