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Weisberg, D. (2015) Pretend play (Journal Article)

Title Pretend play
Abstract:

Pretend play is a form of playful behavior that involves nonliteral action. Although on the surface this activity appears to be merely for fun, recent research has discovered that children's pretend play has connections to important cognitive and social skills, such as symbolic thinking, theory of mind, and counterfactual reasoning. The current article first defines pretend play and then reviews the arguments and evidence for these three connections. Pretend play has a nonliteral correspondence to reality, hence pretending may provide children with practice with navigating symbolic relationships, which may strengthen their language skills. Pretend play and theory of mind reasoning share a focus on others' mental states in order to correctly interpret their behavior, hence pretending and theory of mind may be mutually supportive in development. Pretend play and counterfactual reasoning both involve representing nonreal states of affairs, hence pretending may facilitate children's counterfactual abilities. These connections make pretend play an important phenomenon in cognitive science: Studying children's pretend play can provide insight into these other abilities and their developmental trajectories, and thereby into human cognitive architecture and its development.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2015
Volume:
6
Page/s:
249-261
Synonyms:
  • Atypical development
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Language
  • Literature review
  • Pretend play
  • Social cognition
  • Social-emotional
  • Symbolic play
Research discipline:

Weisberg, D. et al. (2013) Guided Play: Where Curricular Goals Meet a Playful Pedagogy (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Decades of research demonstrate that a strong curricular approach to preschool education is important for later developmental outcomes. Although these findings have often been used to support the implementation of educational programs based on direct instruction, we argue that guided play approaches can be equally effective at delivering content and are more developmentally appropriate in their focus on child-centered exploration. Guided play lies midway between direct instruction and free play, presenting a learning goal, and scaffolding the environment while allowing children to maintain a large degree of control over their learning. The evidence suggests that such approaches often outperform direct-instruction approaches in encouraging a variety of positive academic outcomes. We argue that guided play approaches are effective because they create learning situations that encourage children to become active and engaged partners in the learning process.

Date:
January 2013
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
7
Page/s:
104–112
Synonyms:
  • Academic outcomes
  • Free play
  • Literature review
  • Playful learning
  • Pre-academic skills
  • Guided-play
Relevant age group/s:

Weisberg, D. et al. (2013) Pretense, Counterfactuals, and Bayesian Causal Models: Why What Is Not Real Really Matters (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Young children spend a large portion of their time pretending about non-real situations. Why? We answer this question by using the framework of Bayesian causal models to argue that pretending and counterfactual reasoning engage the same component cognitive abilities: disengaging with current reality, making inferences about an alternative representation of reality, and keeping this representation separate from reality. In turn, according to causal models accounts, counterfactual reasoning is a crucial tool that children need to plan for the future and learn about the world. Both planning with causal models and learning about them require the ability to create false premises and generate conclusions from these premises. We argue that pretending allows children to practice these important cognitive skills. We also consider the prevalence of unrealistic scenarios in children's play and explain how they can be useful in learning, despite appearances to the contrary.

Date:
January 2013
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
37
Page/s:
1368-1381
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Learning
  • Literature review
  • Pretend play
  • Social cognition
  • Social-emotional
  • Symbolic play
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Weisberg, D. et al. (2016) Which Counterfactuals Matter? A Response to Beck (Journal Article)

Abstract:
Date:
January 2016
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
40
Page/s:
257-259
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Literature review
  • Pretend play
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

White, R. et al. (2016) What would Batman do? (Journal Article)

Abstract:

This experimental research assessed the influence of graded levels of self-distancing – psychological distancing from one's egocentric perspective – on executive function (EF) in young children. Three- (n = 48) and 5-year-old (n = 48) children were randomly assigned to one of four manipulations of distance from the self (from proximal to distal: self-immersed, control, third person, and exemplar) on a comprehensive measure of EF. Performance increased as a function of self-distancing across age groups. Follow-up analyses indicated that 5-year-olds were driving this effect. They showed significant improvements in EF with increased distance from the self, outperforming controls both when taking a third person perspective on the self and when taking the perspective of an exemplar other (e.g., Batman) through role play. Three-year-olds, however, did not show increased EF performance as a function of greater distance from the self. Preliminary results suggest that developments in theory of mind might contribute to these age-related differences in efficacy. These findings speak to the importance of psychological distancing in the expression of conscious control over thought and action from a young age and suggest a promising new avenue for early EF intervention.

Date:
January 2016
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
19
Page/s:
419-426
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Experimental
  • Pretend play
  • Social cognition
  • Social-emotional
  • Executive function
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Whitebread, D. (1996) The development of children's strategies on an inductive reasoning task (Journal Article)

Abstract:

This paper reports an analysis of children's cognitive strategies on an inductive reasoning task, by means of a new methodological approach. A sample of 72 children aged 6, 8 and 10 were presented with three different versions of a multidimensional discrimination learning task, which was presented in such a way as to ‘optimise’ their performance. Their responses were analysed in terms of 10 Strategy Components, scores on which were analysed by means of cluster analysis. Overall, the children performed at more sophisticated levels than previously found. Five Strategy Clusters representing distinct patterns of strategic behaviour were revealed. A developmental sequence was established between these patterns of strategic behaviour and, significantly, two alternative developmental routes relating to strategic style. While the results support a complex model of strategy construction, as revealed by recent research, the distinct nature of the Strategy Clusters points to a discontinuous model of strategy development. This evidence of children's differing abilities to construct and select appropriate strategies in relation to a novel task strongly supports the educational imperative of encouraging children's early use and awareness of cognitive strategies.

Author/s:
Date:
January 1996
Volume:
66
Page/s:
1-21
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Problem-solving
  • Self-regulation
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Whitebread, D. (2018) Play Piece: Play and Self-regulation (Blog Post)

Abstract:

Self-regulation helps a child guide their thoughts, emotions and behaviours to accomplish a goal – how does play support this important area of development?

Read our whole Play Piece here.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2018
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
Page/s:
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Self-regulation
Relevant age group/s: