Paths to solving problems : how Chinese heritage children use drawing in a social context
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Understanding children’s problem solving with drawing is addressed by examining qualitatively the following questions: What are young children’s problem solving strategies as they attempt to solve problems in a group setting where drawing is part of the context? How do young children use drawing and other social interactions to interpret and reveal their understanding of problems? What role does drawing take in this social problem solving context? The subjects included five groups of Chinese-heritage children of ages from 4 to 5 with three children familiar to each other from a same Chinese language class in each group and their parents. The children included eleven girls and four boys. Both of the parents of three children were interviewed by the researcher and the mothers of the other children were interviewed. Problem solving sessions were videotaped, and children were interviewed about their strategies. As revealed in the study, children would form problem solving strategies with use of sign systems, relaxation of constraints, solution concepts, evaluation, planning, and behavioral responses as they attempt to solve problems in a group setting where drawing is part of the context. All the important elements of children’s problem solving strategies would reflect children’s experiences within a social context of drawing. Moreover, the children’s drawings and verbal expressions demonstrated their perceptions of the given elements in terms of individually-categorized-element images and collectively-unorganized-heap images and the initial relations in terms of subsetcomposition images and whole-set-composition images. Moreover, the study showed how children would use graphical, verbal, and gestural representations to reveal their perceptions of the goal state, adjustments in perceptions, and operations on the given elements to form complex thinking and concepts. Within a social context children would have their learning experiences in drawing and bring their prior experiences into drawing. Drawing would be an appropriate means for children to interpret and reveal their perceptions, contribute to children’s sign operation, formation of complex thinking and concepts, planning, evaluation, and behavioral responses, and extend the operation of memory.