Using what children know to improve their learning

Susan M. McHale, Meredith J. West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Eighty children from three to seven years of age were tested on two forms of a matrix task, one of which was designed to take into account children's limited problem solving skills. The tasks involved seriating nine items (geometric shapes or birds) across two dimensions in a 3 × 3 matrix. The children were required to replace items that had been removed from a matrix board, to reproduce the entire matrix when all items had been removed from the board, and to transpose the matrix, that is, to reproduce the same spatial relations between the items, rotated ninety degrees. Results showed that children performed better when tested using common materials than when they were given standard materials. Furthermore, a greater percentage of children were able to complete the tasks and were able to respond correctly on the first trial of the tasks when using common materials (bird families) than when using the standard geometric shapes. The results were discussed in terms of task variables that influence children's performance and the problems resulting from generating theories of children's cognitive competence based on their performance in specific situations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-148
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1980

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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