New! Aimed at Early Years Practitioners FREE Online training workshop. The session will last for approx. 2 hours and
you will be provided with some pre-recorded material for preparation.
Thursday 22 October and Thursday 29 October 2020 (subject to availability).
Enquiries and registration: please email Zeynep Civelek at [email protected]
Latest update on research
Attention shifting study – II
This study was a follow up to our first attention shifting study and was carried out by one of our students, Jessica Campbell-May.
We used the same task as described above, but this time tested many more children to check whether we could replicate the results from our first study. This time, 108 children took part in our study, most of which were tested at Dundee Science Centre. Children were asked to look for stickers. In the first phase of the game, half of the children learned that the sticker was always hidden under one specific up, and half of the children learnt that the sticker was always hidden in one specific filling material.In phase 2, without any announcement, we changed all the materials and for some children the rule also changed. For some children who learnt that it was always one of the cups winning, all of a sudden one of the filling materials predicted the sticker. And for some of the children who learnt in phase 1 that it was always one specific filling material that indicated the location of the sticker, suddenly it was one of the cups. Therefore, children needed to switch their attention to continue solving the task! We measured how difficult attention shifting was for children and whether there were any age differences.
Background to Research Project – Executive Functions and their Development in Early Childhood
Researchers Eva Reindl and Amanda Seed begun this research in 2018. Studies that have been completed so far are outlined below. Also below you will find a link to a parents’ letter to thank them and their children and provide some results so far.
Attention shifting study
In this study, we introduced a new task measuring attention shifting in 3-5-year-olds. Children played a 20 min game with two phases. In phase 1, were presented with two trays, consisting of a filling material (play sand or shredded paper) and a container on top (purple or yellow). Children were playing several rounds and in each round looked for a sticker. In order to find as many stickers as possible, children needed to learn which of the items (sand, paper, one of the containers) predicted the location of the sticker. In phase 2, without any announcement, the item predicting the sticker changed. We measured how many rounds it would take children to learn the new pattern and whether the nature of the shift could make the switch easier or harder.
56 children took part in our study. They were tested at Dundee Science Centre, Edinburgh Zoo, Science festivals, and at a nursery.
Inhibition study – boxes
In this study, we tested a new task measuring inhibition in 3-5-year-olds. Children were presented with 2 boxes: one showing a sticker and another one showing nothing. In each round of the game, children could choose one box to try and win a sticker. Stickers were always hidden in the boxes that showed nothing. In order to get as many stickers as possible, children had to resist (i.e., inhibit) reaching towards the box showing the sticker and instead pick the boring box. We aimed to assess variation in children’s inhibition abilities by measuring the number of inhibition errors (i.e., reaching to the wrong sticker box) children would make throughout the game. Children also played several classical inhibition tasks. Children’s performance in this task was compared with their performance in our new task.
59 children took part, tested at Dundee Science Centre and Glasgow Science Centre.
Inhibition study – cups
In this study, we tested a new task measuring inhibition in 3-5-year-olds. Children were presented with a board on which we placed 24 small cups. Half of the cups were transparent and showed a sticker, half of the cups were black so one couldn’t see inside. Children were encouraged to pick the cups up and search them for stickers. What children did not know: The transparent cups were sealed, making it impossible to retrieve the sticker. It was the black cups that were open at the bottom, so that the sticker would fall out if the cup was lifted.
We were interested to see whether children would have a tendency to reach to the transparent cups first, as these might be more attractive. We were also investigating how often children – once they learned that the could not get the sticker from the transparent cups – would still lift the transparent cups, i.e., how hard it would be to inhibit reaching to the transparent cups and instead choosing the black ones.
Children also played several classical inhibition tasks. Children’s performance in this task was compared with their performance in our new task.
46 children took part in our study, tested at Dundee Science Centre.