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What do children’s drawings tell us about child development?

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Presentation on theme: "What do children’s drawings tell us about child development?"— Presentation transcript:

1 What do children’s drawings tell us about child development?

2 Why study children’s drawings?
- Learn about acquisition of drawing skills such as: motor execution, planning strategies, spatio-geometric and part-whole relations, and artistic talent. -To use it as a source of evidence with respect to more general processes such as representational change.

3 How study children’s drawings? Two approaches (Vinter, 1999)
Product oriented approach- The “what” of drawing or the trace left on the paper. Process oriented approach – The “how” of drawing or the organisation of movement used for drawing.

4 Drawing develops through distinct stages (Luquet, 1913;1927; Piaget & Inhelder 1956;1971)
1.) Scribbling (ages 2-4)- fortuitous realism 2.) Preschematic stage (ages 4-7) Failed realism – elements are unrelated/unconnected Intellectual realism – Children draw what they “know” 3.) Schematic stage (ages 8-9) Visual realism – children draw what they “see”

5 What influences children’s drawing? (Luquet)
Child’s internal model/representation (mental image) - Contains the critical features of that topic (sides of cube). - Attempt to include all critical features may result in unrealistic drawing. (sides of cube drawn folded out or cup with handle)

6 Visual & Intellectual realism (Freeman & Janikoun, 1972)
Intellectual realism- draw what you know rather than what you see Visual realism-draw what you see in a very realistic way

7 Visual & Intellectual realism Cox (1978,1981)
Occlusion task- Children younger than 8 yrs. Failed to draw the appropriate relationship. incorrect correct

8 Luquet / Piaget &Inhelder (1956,1969)
Luquet’s theory of drawings as representations of internal models has been taken up as a cognitive theory (Piaget incorporated ideas into his own account of child dev.) , even though…… Luquet does acknowledge other influencing factors which include non-cognitive factors. Thus, it is doubtful that Luquet was a strong advocate of stages.

9 Criticisms of stage account (see intro in Charman & Baron-Cohen,1993)
Stages too rigid (Freeman, 1980) 6yr olds more successful in drawing occluded objects when meaningful context added (Cox,1981) When balls given faces children aged 7 were able to give a partial occlusion response. (Littleton & Cox, 1989)

10 Are there developmental stages
Are there developmental stages? (see intro in Charman & Baron-Cohen,1993) The idea of rigid stages has been left behind, however children still show evidence of sequential cummulative progression in drawing development. Despite an abundance of literature challenging stages account of drawing, children below age 5 rarely produce visually real drawings (Shift from intellectual to realistic drawing still occurs in young children)

11 Autistic Savants

12 Do individuals with autism progress through drawing stages more rapidly? (Eames & Cox,1994; Charman & Baron-Cohen, 1993) Those in the general autistic population? Found: No evidence that those with autism progress more rapidly to visual realism. Conclude: Those with autism produce intellectually realistic drawings, like those with typical development. This means they have the capacity to represent non-mental representations (using their internal model).

13 But how can we explain autistic savants?
Perhaps those with savant abilities form representational schemas as those with typical development, but features emphasized are primarily structural descriptions rather than semantic knowledge.

14 Pring & Hermelin, 1993 Aimed to investigate the mental processes contributing to graphic aptitude of savant artists. Does reproduction memory and picture sorting rely on structural or semantic features in savant and non-savant artists?

15 Exp. 1- Reproduction memory

16 Exp. 2 Picture sorting

17 Conclusions There is no evidence to suggest that autistic savants have a particularly well developed memory for the visual-structural features of objects, or have overall more efficient visual memory.

18 Snyder & Thomas (1997) Argue autistic artists make no assumptions about what is seen in their environment. They do not have mental representations about what is salient in their environment and see all details as equally important. Perhaps perception is less Top-down

19 Why study children’s drawings?
1.) Explore acquisition of drawing skills such as: motor execution, planning strategies, spatio-geometric and part-whole relations, and artistic talent). 2.) To use it as a source of evidence with respect to more general processes such as representational change.

20 Representational change
Knowledge is internalised and stored in the form of symbolic representations in a person’s mind. These internal representations may be modified to integrate new information.

21 Traditional theories of child development?
Nativism Piagetian Role of genes Very important No Role of environment Role of child Development is….. Domain-specific Domain-general

22 Karmiloff-Smith (1990;1992) First attempt to combine the Nativist and Piagetian views of cognitive development. Infants are born with specified pre-dispositions or biases that focus attention to relevant environmental inputs. Initial representations become redescribed/reformatted with experience.

23 Constraints theory of child development
An internal representation is first specified as a sequentially fixed list. (constraints exists at this level). Through representational redescription sequential constraints are relaxed. End result is an internal representation which is specified as a structured yet easily manipulable set of features.

24 Karmiloff-Smith (1990) Children were asked to draw a man with 2 heads
They found 5 year olds were significantly less successful than 8 years olds.

25 Successful Not successful

26 Alternative explanations
Zhi, Thomas, and Robinson (1997) argue that Karmiloff-Smith’s findings may be result of: 1.) Small sample size 2.) Motivational/Dispositional factors 3.) Attentional factors

27 Experiment 1 Aim to replicate with larger sample
32 (4-5 year olds); 26 (8-10 year olds) Half of children were shown a picture of a woman with 2 heads before drawing.

28 Exp. 1- examples of drawings

29 Experiment 2 Aim to explore dispositional factors 26 (4-5 year olds)
Unfamiliar object

30 Exp. 2 - examples of drawings

31 Experiment 3 Aimed to explore whether inflexibility in drawing could be found in younger children. 32 (3-4 year olds) N= Successful Not successful Illustration 16 11 5 No Illustration

32 Exp. 3 - examples of drawings

33 Experiment 4 Aimed to explore external task –related factors, such as attention. 81 (3-5 year olds) Failed both 22 Successful on both 41 Mixed performance 18

34 Summary of supporting evidence
A substantial number of 4-5 year olds failed even with the clarification of seeing the illustration first and a larger sample size. Study 2 ruled out dispositional factors Study 4 ruled out attentional factors

35 Challenges to theory Many 3-4 year olds could successfully adapt their usual drawing procedure to produce a man with 2 heads. External factors such as trying to maintain a coherent and symmetrical composition may be able to account for difficulties with drawing a two headed figure.


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