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The effect of spatial displacement on children’s concept of directionality involving hidden objects Wood, Ian Murray

Abstract

This study arose from a classroom discovery of a phenomenon involving an inconsistency in children's concepts of the direction of a distant unseen location. The importance of directionality problems, especially in outdoor education, led to the decision to attempt to describe the development of this phenomenon. A task was devised to duplicate the classroom situation. The task procedure involved having the subjects identify the location of a distant telephone pole from outside the gymnasium and then returning to the gymnasium and pointing the two arrows at the telephone pole which they could no longer see. When they were satisfied that both arrows were correct the subjects were questioned in an attempt to discover the underlying reasons for their responses. Fifty-five children from ages 5 to 11 were tested. A videotape recording, a cassette tape recording and a typed protocol were prepared for each interview. Piaget's theory of the development of knowledge provided the theoretical model for this study and the interview technique was based on the Piagetian model of the clinical interview. Witzian framework analysis was used to analyse the subject's responses. Analysis of the data collected resulted in the identification of six different sets of ideas used by young children to cope with the task situation. Also noted was the inability of children under age 5 to complete the task. The six sets of ideas or frameworks were identified from the data as: Framework 1 - The indicator on the south is closer to the telephone pole than the indicator on the north. Framework 2 - The indicator on the north is closer to the telephone pole than the indicator on the south. Framework 3 - The telephone pole is between the two indicators. Framework 4 - Part of the wall is equated to the telephone pole. Framework 5 - One indicator is chosen as a reference point. Framework 6 - Adult response (correct cognition). The indicators should be almost parallel.

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