Children's tool making: from innovation to manufacture

Cutting, Nicola (2013). Children's tool making: from innovation to manufacture. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Through eight experiments this thesis investigated the divergence in children’s abilities in the domain of tool making. Despite being excellent tool manufacturers following full instruction, children displayed great difficulty in innovating novel tools to solve problems. Experiments 1 to 3 found four-to-seven- year-olds’ tool-innovation difficulty to be a robust phenomenon that extended to new tasks requiring different tools made by a variety of methods and materials. Experiments 3 and 4 aimed to discover whether some tool-innovation tasks are harder for children than others. Together these experiments suggested that the difficulty of tool innovation is due to the type of transformation required. Experiments 5 to 8 investigated why children find tool innovation so difficult. Experiments 5 and 6 ruled out singular executive functions as limiting factors on children’s performance. Experiments 7 and 8 found that young children have great difficulty in generating and coordinating the components of a problem even if aspects of the task are highlighted for them. Overall this thesis led to the conclusion that tool-innovation difficulty is due the ill-structured nature of the task. Additionally this thesis provides new definitions and frameworks with which to study tool-related behaviour that will benefit both the developmental and comparative literatures.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Psychology
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: T Technology > TT Handicrafts Arts and crafts


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