Using a game-like procedure as a new test of problem solving and concept formation in children

Prof Doc Thesis

Pavitt, A. 2017. Using a game-like procedure as a new test of problem solving and concept formation in children. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsPavitt, A.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Concept formation is a complex cognitive process which allows us to identify, categorise, and determine rules from sets of experiences alongside developing cognitive representations for complex thoughts, behaviours, and events. Concept formation abilities are highly important for children’s performances in school, socially, and therefore throughout their lives. Yet, most of the tests that are used to measure concept formation in children were developed for use with adults; very few have been specifically designed for children.
This study is the first phase of test development. It addressed whether a new game of concept formation, the Alien Game, could capture executive functions in a group of 18 typically developing children. The game was based on the 20-Questions task and a game-like structure was adopted in order to engage participants. Codes were generated from a two-phase content analysis carried out using previous research and the children’s responses within this study. The task was also interpreted using an Abstraction Score, a Learning Slope, an Initial Abstraction Score, a Weighted Achievement Score, and a Time to First Question measure.
The content analysis indicated that similar patterns were found among the children’s responses, with the children using a majority of ‘Constraint seeking’ questions. The Abstraction Score, Initial Abstraction Score, and Weighted Achievement Score addressed separate aspects of the questions asked, and were each designed to assess the quality of questions asked.
These results indicate that this task could potentially be used as a formal cognitive test. This needs to be further developed through future research on norms, reliability, and validity. Clinically, the Alien Game shows potential of being used as a neuropsychological tool which could be used to capture deficits in children’s concept formation early, in order for appropriate interventions and support to be put in place at a younger age.

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Deposited05 Jan 2018
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