Preschool children's problem-solving interactions at computers and jigsaw puzzles

Preschool children's problem-solving interactions at computers and jigsaw puzzles
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Preschool children's interactions while working on problem-solving tasks were investigated. In Study I, preschool children were observed working on learning games at a computer. Sharing, verbal and nonverbal instruction, and initiation of interaction were recorded. Sixty-three percent of the children's time at the computer was spent with a peer, and they often spontaneously shared and instructed each other.Age-related increases in time spent at the computer, as well as in self-initiation of interaction and sharing, were evident. No differences were found between boys' and girls' activities at the computer. In Study II, children were observed while working with jigsaw puzzles. In this context, children worked with peers just 7% of the time, and exhibited far fewer instances of cooperative interaction. The results of the research indicate that preschool children can engage in cooperative social interaction and instruction, and that under certain circumstances this activity may aid problem-solving. The research provides evidence that even children younger than school age can work effectively at computers. Moreover, the findings contradict common stereotypes about gender differences and social isolation from effects of computers.

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