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Embedded figures in stories (EFiS): A method to observe preschoolers’ interactions with spatial manipulatives

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Technologies that aim to support preschool children's learning are emerging rapidly in the industry. However, the developmental needs and abilities of children under 4 years old have been insufficiently taken into account in the early stages of technology design. This paper addresses this gap in the child–computer interaction field by exploring how children between the ages of 2 and 4 years old interact with spatial manipulatives that facilitate their early spatial learning. To this end, we developed Embedded Figures in Stories (EFiS) method to elicit age specific knowledge about preschoolers’ spatial skills (i.e., mental rotation) and inform child-tangible interaction (CTI) design. To develop EFiS method, we modified intervention techniques for early spatial learning found in cognitive developmental studies and incorporated these into design methods used in CTI. In this paper, we first present an argument for why CTI design with and for preschoolers is important for early spatial learning. Second, we describe our method and how we applied it in a case study. Then, we discuss the potential opportunities and limitations of using the EFiS method, along with design guidelines for future use of the method. This study mainly contributes to design methods to extract age specific knowledge about very young children's spatial thinking skills, which lay a basis for further STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) achievements.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Child-Computer Interaction
Volume21
Pages (from-to)121-129
Number of pages9
ISSN2212-8689
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2019

    Research areas

  • Child-tangible interaction, Design methods, Design with preschoolers, Spatial learning, Tangible interaction for learning

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