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Problem solving/developmental psychology/Klahr: in order to test the abilities in making inferences, Klahr (Klahr & Robinson, 1981)(1) modified the Tower of Hanoi to find out what problem-solving strategies a child can develop. Choosing cups instead of discs makes it impossible to put a smaller one on a larger one without giving explanations.
The child was asked to tell the experimenter what she (the experimenter) should do in order to get her (the experimenter’s) cans to look just like the child’s in order to find out what mental representations the child could create.
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Participants: 51 children, 19 each in a 4-year and 5-year groups and 13 in a 6-year group. Approximately equal numbers of boys and girls at each age level.
The children were told a cover story about three monkeys on a riverbank (father, mother, child), which were represented by the cups (red, yellow, blue).
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The main question of interest is how far into the future a child could “see” in describing move sequences. To avoid overestimating this capacity on the basis of a few fortuitous solutions, we used a very strict criterion: a child was scored as able to solve n-move problems only after proposing the minimum path solution for all four of the problems of length n.
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(Cf. >Abilities/Klahr, >Method/Piaget, >Thinking/Piaget) the absolute level of performance was striking, given Piaget’s earlier claims. Over two-thirds of the five-year-olds and nearly all of the six-year-olds consistently gave perfect four-move solutions, and over half of the six-year-olds gave perfect six-move solutions. Almost half of the four-year-olds could do the three-move problems. Recall that these solutions required that the child manipulate mental representations of future states, because the cans were not moved during or after the child’s description of the solution sequence.
1. Klahr, D., & Robinson, M. (1981). Formal assessment of problem solving and planning processes in preschool children. Cognitive Psychology, 13, 113–148.
David Klahr, ”Revisiting Piaget. A Perspective from Studies of Children’s Problem-solving Abilities”, in: Alan M. Slater and Paul C. Quinn (eds.) 2012. Developmental Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies. London: Sage Publications_____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Alan M. Slater
Paul C. Quinn
Developmental Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2012