Examining developmental origins of visual imagery through childhood play- Group 6

2023-2024 Spring
Faculty Department of Project Supervisor: 
Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
Number of Students: 

The proposed research focuses on a rather unexplored question that concerns the origins and development of individual differences in object and spatial visual imagery. We consider visual play preferences as an environmentally sensitive manifestation of individual differences in imagery, which may potentially serve as an indirect or related measure of visualization ability in preschool children.
In the current project, we will examine dissociation between visual object play (e.g., exploring drawing media or decorative crafts) and spatial play (e.g., assembling and disassembling mechanisms, or playing with construction toys) preferences, and their relation to measures of object visualization versus spatial visualization, as well as to aptitudes in artistic versus scientific domains. We will study how children engage in different types of play activities to learn about their preferred approaches to processing visual information. Understanding visual play preferences can offer valuable insights about individual's ways of processing visual information and cognitive visualization abilities. For example, a child who consistently prefers construction toys and spatial puzzles might exhibit better visual-spatial problem-solving skills.
We will integrate combined child-adult assessment and field research to study play behavior (e.g., play preferences in terms of favorite visual toys or ways of play). First, using the images depicting traditional toys, we will create the play task designed to gauge play preferences and the level of accuracy in comprehending actions and materials associated with visual games. Next, we will conduct Field Child Edutainment Study, offering a variety of visual-spatial and visual-object activities with traditional manipulative toys such as constructors and creative design sets.This study will involve around 50children (4- to 6-years-old) engaged in hands-on participation in play and tactile interactions with toys. We will observe children’s toy and play choicesin ecologically valid, naturalistic settings (festival at Sabanci University, organized in May).
For this project, we will recruit play station assistants and researchers among Sabanci students. We will supervise and train the students who would work at the play stations and assist children as researchers.
If you are interested in joining our team, please fill out the questionnaire at this link: https://forms.gle/aBZQDgztZBRgAYXU9. Afterwards, you may be invited for the interview.  
- General interest in cognitive and development psychology and/or specific interest in the topic of imagery, childhood development, play behavior.
- Readiness to contribute for at least 2-3 hours per week during the semester, and at least 5 hours on the day of the event (TBD, most probably sometime in May).  
- Interpersonal and organizational skills: communication ability (especially, communication with preschool children), teamwork, empathy, positive attitude, and creativity.
Desired but not required:
- Volunteer experience in community events (e.g., Human Library)
- Extensive experience/ work interacting with young with children (including family members)
- Research/ academic writing experience
- Photoshop and art/design skills
---- More details about the planned Field Child Edutainment Study----
We will invite children from local communities (e.g., university members, nearby workers, visitors to toy stores, children from kindergartens, and schools in the area). The announcements will include the link to the survey for parents with questions about their child (imagination characteristics, play behavior, cognitive and emotional development) and family (e.g., parental control). Prior to the day of the event, after completing the survey, parents will receive a ticket for their child with a unique number. On the day of the event, children will receive ‘passports’ with their ID numbers and engage in different tasks (e.g., creative art making, design, solving picture puzzles, assembling geometrical constructors). Children will be freely selecting and joining creative visual activities at different play stations (e.g., tables), equipped with necessary materials (e.g., educational toys, art supplies) that will be ruled by student assistants. At each play station they will be provided with the instructions and materials, and upon the completion of each task, participants will have their passports stamped with a stamp indicating the station. They will also have each work photographed together with their participants’ number. The researcher will accompany each child and will be able to make observations. After participating in various activities at the event, before leaving the stations’ area, children will have their passports photographed and receive gift toys. For a gift, children will have a choice between gender-neutral visual-object and a visual-spatial toy, and we will also record their preference.
We will prepare at least 15 object and 15 spatial play stations. For each toy set, we will create the task with different levels of difficulty, so we will be able to observe not only the chosen game, but also the preferred level of difficulty when playing with object vs. spatial toys. The instructions for tasks for each difficulty level will be printed on cards with different color codes (e.g., from green – ‘easy’ to red – ‘difficult’). The child will be shown the play set materials and will select the desired level of difficulty. Then, the child will be shown the ‘outputs’ card set (prototype of the Game Creative Output task) and be asked to select one card representing the output that can’t be made from the given materials. Besides, the child will be shown the ‘actions’ card set (prototype of the Game Action Sequence  task) and will be asked to order the actions in the logical sequence (from first to last). Finally, the child will engage in play activity, and work on a creative output similar/same to the one represented on the ‘output’ and ‘card set. Then the child will be encouraged to try another game or try to produce another creative output from the same toy set. The child will be free to leave or join any activity at any moment.
We will develop a coding scheme and rating scales that will be filled by each researcher assisting each child. Researcher will record each child’s game preferences (e.g., number of visual-object and visual-spatial play stations visited, time spent on each station; level of difficulty for the selected games), performance (e.g., accuracy in selecting the odd one out game from the ‘output’ cards, accuracy of ordering the ‘actions’ sequence cards, level of engagement in play behavior and satisfaction with the final creative output), and other behavior (e.g., whether the child was accompanied and helped by the parents).

Related Areas of Project: 
Computer Science and Engineering
Molecular Biology, Genetics and Bioengineering
Electronics Engineering
Materials Science ve Nano Engineering
Mechatronics Engineering
Industrial Engineering
Visual Arts and Visual Communications Design
Cultural Studies
Political Science
International Studies
Business Analytics
Turkish Studies

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