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Walker, C. et al. (2013) Pretense and possibility—A theoretical proposal about the effects of pretend play on development: Comment on Lillard et al. (2013) (Journal Article)

Abstract:

The review by Lillard et al. (2013) highlighted the need for additional research to better clarify the nature of the relationship between pretend play and development. However, the authors did not provide a proposal for how to structure the direction of this future work. Here, we provide a possible framework for generating additional research. This theoretical proposal is based on recent computational approaches to cognition, in which counterfactual reasoning plays a central role in causal learning. We propose that pretend play initially emerges as a product of the cognitive mechanisms underlying human learning and then feeds back to become critical for enhancing the optimal functioning of these same processes. More specifically, we argue that pretending is in fact 1 of several forms of counterfactual reasoning, which is essential to causal cognition—and that the act of engaging in pretend scenarios may provide early opportunities to practice the skills that were initially responsible for its appearance. Here, we provide a brief overview of this theoretical framework, consider how these ideas may be integrated with the previous work covered in Lillard et al.'s (2013) review, and suggest some empirically testable questions to direct future directions.

Date:
January 2013
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
139
Page/s:
40-44
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Learning
  • Pretend play
  • Problem-solving
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Weisberg, D. et al. (2013) Embracing complexity: Rethinking the relation between play and learning: Comment on Lillard et al. (2013) (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Lillard et al. (2013) concluded that pretend play is not causally related to child outcomes and charged that the field is subject to a play ethos, whereby research is tainted by a bias to find positive effects of play on child development. In this commentary, we embrace their call for a more solidly scientific approach to questions in this important area of study while offering 2 critiques of their analysis. First, we urge researchers to take a more holistic approach to the body of evidence on play and learning, rather than relying on piecemeal criticisms of individual studies, since positive effects of play on learning emerge despite the use of a variety of methods, contents, and experimental conditions. Second, we consider how best to study this topic in the future and propose moving away from traditional empirical approaches to more complicated statistical models and methods that will allow us to embrace the full variety and complexity of playful learning. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

Date:
January 2013
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
139
Page/s:
35-39
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Learning
  • Playful learning
  • Pretend play
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

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:

Whitebread, D. (2012) Developmental psychology and early childhood education: a guide for students and practitioners (Book)

Whitebread, D. et al. (2007) Development of Metacognition and Self-Regulated Learning in Young Children: Role of Collaborative and Peer-Assisted Learning (Journal Article)

Abstract:

The authors present findings from a large 2-year study exploring the development of self-regulatory and metacognitive abilities in young children (aged 3 to 5 years) in educational naturalistic settings in the United Kingdom (English Nursery and Reception classrooms). Three levels of analysis were conducted based on observational codings of categories of metacognitive and self-regulatory behaviors. These analyses supported the view that, within the 3- to 5-year age range, there was extensive evidence of metacognitive behaviors that occurred most frequently during learning activities that were initiated by the children, involved them in working in pairs or small groups, unsupervised by adults, and that involved extensive collaboration and talk (i.e., learning contexts that might be characterized as peer-assisted learning). Relative to working individually or
in groups with adult support, children in this age range working in unsupervised small groups showed more evidence of metacognitive monitoring and control. Relative to children in supervised groups, they also showed more evidence of "other" and "shared" regulation. The implications for research,
theory, and educational practice are discussed.

Date:
January 2007
Volume:
6
Page/s:
433-455
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Learning
  • Metacognition
  • Self-regulation
Relevant age group/s:

Whitebread, D. et al. (2009) Play, cognition and self-regulation: What exactly are children learning when they learn through play? (Journal Article)

Abstract:

This paper explores the particular aspects of learning which might be supported through playful activity and reviews research and theory which link children’s play, and particularly pretence or symbolic play, to the development of metacognitive and self-regulatory skills. Three studies are reported, one observational and two experimental, which have explored this
relationship. The observational study involved the video-recording of 582 metacognitive or self-regulatory ‘events’ within Foundation Stage settings. The two experimental studies replicated in different learning domains the classic study of Sylva, Bruner and Genova (1976), which contrasted the problem-solving performance of 3- to 5-year-old children who had experienced a ‘taught’ and ‘play’ condition. Evidence from the present studies reported and other studies supports the view that play, and
particularly pretence or symbolic play, which might be with objects or other children, is particularly significant in its contribution to the development of children as metacognitively skilful, self-regulated learners. Evidence from the observational study indicated that child-initiated playful activities, in small groups without adult supervision, supported the greatest proportion of self-regulatory behaviours. The experimental studies suggested that the experience of the ‘play’ condition was particularly effective in preparing the children for effortful, problem-solving or creative tasks which require a high level of metacognitive and self-regulatory skill. Metacognitive and self-regulatory development is crucially important in the development of academic skills which involve intentional learning, problem-solving and creativity. An understanding of the relationship between pretend or symbolic play and self-regulation is also helpful in providing clear guidelines for adults working with young children as regards their role in supporting and encouraging play in educational contexts.

Date:
January 2009
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
26
Page/s:
40
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Learning
  • Metacognition
  • Pretend play
  • Self-regulation
  • Symbolic play
Relevant age group/s:

Wu, S. (2015) What Can Chinese and German Children Tell Us about Their Learning and Play in Kindergarten? (Journal Article)

Abstract:

This study investigated Hong Kong and German children's perceptions of play and learning and their relationships. Forty-eight children (24 German and 24 Chinese) playing and learning in the classroom were observed and videotaped for five consecutive days. They were interviewed 3 times about their kindergarten experiences by using free- and cue-recall questions. It is found that the Hong Kong children remembered more academic learning activities, whereas the German children remembered more play events. Most of the Hong Kong children recalled academic learning content, whereas the German children associated learning with play. The findings showed that children's understandings of the relationship between play and learning varied with their classroom contexts. These results suggest that children's perspectives on play and learning should be taken into account by advocating a play-based pedagogy approach or integrating more learning elements into a play-oriented curriculum. The implications for policy and pedagogy are discussed.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2015
Volume:
29
Page/s:
338-351
Synonyms:
  • Free play
  • Learning
  • Pedagogy
  • Playful learning
  • Qualitative methodology
Relevant age group/s:

Zosh, J. et al. (2018) Accessing the Inaccessible: Redefining Play as a Spectrum (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Defining play has plagued researchers and philosophers for years. From describing play as an inaccessible concept due to its complexity, to providing checklists of features, the field has struggled with how to conceptualize and operationalize “play.” This theoretical piece reviews the literature about both play and learning and suggests that by viewing play as a spectrum – that ranges from free play (no guidance or support) to guided play and games (including purposeful adult support while maintaining playful elements), we better capture the true essence of play and explain its relationship to learning. Insights from the Science of Learning allow us to better understand why play supports learning across social and academic domains. By changing the lens through which we conceptualize play, we account for previous findings in a cohesive way while also proposing new avenues of exploration for the field to study the role of learning through play across age and context.

Date:
January 2018
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
9
Page/s:
Synonyms:
  • Free play
  • Learning
  • Playful learning
  • Guided-play
  • Literature review
  • Play with other adult
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline: