EFFECTS OF VARIED MEDIATION ON SPATIAL CONCEPTS IN YOUNG CHILDREN
SICHEL, ARTHUR GUTMAN
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Piaget and Inhelder begin presentation of their thesis that a child's conception of space is invariably topological before it is projective or Euclidean with a tactile-kinesthetic to visual shape recognition task, with some shapes designated topological and others Euclidean. Fisher found that when he taught nonsense syllable names for the shapes, there was greater success with the Euclidean than topological shapes. He suggested a linear rather than topological primacy in that circumstance. The validity of grouping the shapes as topological vs. Euclidean was questioned but it was noted that a curvilinear vs. rectilinear categorization would be valid. It was asserted that Fisher's work implies a reversal of order of concept acquisition with nonsense syllable name learning as mediation.;The study was replicated with seven mediating conditions: (1) nonsense syllable name learning, (2) prior visual exposure to the shapes, (3) no prior exposure, (4) learning culturally designated names for the shapes, (5) rehearsal of names the child assigns to the shapes, (6) playing a simple game with the shapes, and (7) playing the same game, but without handling the shapes. Under all conditions, scores for the 96 white, middleclass children ages from 3-1 to 5-8 years, were higher for curvilinear than rectilinear shapes. Reasons for the failure to replicate Fisher were discussed, suggesting that these results are more reliable.;Analysis of variance showed mediation to be a significant factor. The analysis supported grouping experimental conditions into three categories: (1) mediations using signifiers of internal origin, (2) mediations using signifiers of external origin, and (3) conditions which did not guide the use of mediation. Category (2) scores were higher; category (3) scores were interspersed among the others, indicating without guidance children mediate choosing signifiers of either internal or external origin. It was argued that categories (1) and (2) correspond to primary and secondary process thinking, and that this demonstrated primary process thinking may be involved in such cognitive functioning. Piaget did not consider primary process thinking in his analyses and theoretical considerations. This omission was discussed along with possibilities suggested by its conclusion in cognitive theory.