Preschoolers use analogy to facilitate innovative problem-solving

AbstractAlthough children become adept problem-solvers early in life, creating tools to solve novel problems remains challenging throughout the early school years. To explore this problem, we gave one group of 4-7-year-old children (N = 25) the opportunity to compare multiple materials with matching functional properties across three trials. A second group (N = 26) saw the same materials in each trial. We considered whether children improved across trials and whether they transferred any learning to a new exemplar that required a different functional technique. Although children learned equally well across the first three trials regardless of condition, children who had the chance to compare materials were more likely to improve from the initial trial to the transfer trial. We discuss the implications for identifying the origins of innovative problem-solving.

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