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Children's performance on and understanding of the balance scale problem: the effects of adult support

Philips, Sharon (2007) Children's performance on and understanding of the balance scale problem: the effects of adult support. PhD thesis, University Of Strathclyde.

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The present thesis investigated the Vygotskian notion that social influences are necessary for children's learning to take place, and that the process of conceptual development via Representational Redescription, described by Karmiloff-Smith (1992), occurs as a result of contingent scaffolding techniques. The aim of the research detailed in the thesis was to examine the effects of adult support on children's performance on and understanding of a Balance Scale task. Analyses of support focused on the extent to which language used by the adult could be appropriated and used subsequently by the child to complete the task and explain their actions. The adult providing support was either the child's parent (Study 1), or was unknown to the child (Studies 2 and 3). Whereas Studies 1 and 2 focused on the impact of support on individual children, Study 3 looked at this impact on collaborating children working in dyads. All children worked on the Balance Scale task at three separate time-points.