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Solving Analogies in a Fantastical Context: Preschoolers' Ability to Transfer Solutions From Fantasy to Reality

Richert, Rebekah Ann
Format
Thesis/Dissertation; Online
Author
Richert, Rebekah Ann
Advisor
Spellman, Bobbie
DeLoache, Judy
Lillard, Angel
Green, Mitch
Weinfield, Nancy
Abstract
Vygotsky (1978) characterized the imagination as a scaffold to cognition, indicating that children can achieve higher levels of cognition when engaged in imaginative thought than when engaged in thinking in the context of the real world. Research in cognitive development supports this theory. Children perform slightly better on several different types of cognitive tasks, like logical syllogisms, when the tasks are framed in a fantasy context. The present research explores whether fantasy has a facilitative effect on preschool children's ability to solve analogical problems. In Experiment 1, 3- to 5-year-old children were presented with analogical problems in two different contexts. In one context, stories were about the children's teachers, and in the other context the stories were about fantasy characters. Children were more likely to transfer a solution to the target story if the stories were about the fantasy characters than about their teachers. This was especially true for 3-year-old children. In Experiment 2, children were told the solution in one context and asked to transfer that solution to a different context. Thus, if children were originally told the solution in a story about the fantasy characters, they had to transfer the solution to a story about their teachers, and vice versa. The 3- to 5-year-old children were more likely to transfer the solution from the stories about the teachers to the stories about the fantasy characters, than from the stories about the fantasy characters to the stories about the teachers. In Experiment 3, 4- to 6-year-old children were asked to transfer the solution to novel games. The older children were more likely to transfer the solution from stories about their teachers than stories about the fantasy characters to the novel games. The 3 results of these experiments suggest that even though children's ability to solve analogies improved when the analogy was presented in a fantasy context, children demonstrate a greater ease in transferring from reality to fantasy than from fantasy to reality. Findings are discussed in terms of their implications for children's transfer from fantasy to reality and the resulting implications for educational practices. Note: Abstract extracted from PDF text
Language
English
Published
University of Virginia, Department of Psychology, PHD, 2003
Published Date
2003-05-01
Degree
PHD
Collection
Libra ETD Repository
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