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The Development of Children's Understanding of Space Relations among Objects

The Coordination of Perspectives Task of Jean Piaget

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Alfred J. Nigl

Piaget and Inhelder (1956) designed the coordination of perspectives task to investigate the development and utilization of projective relations in the conception and perception of groups of objects. Three developmental stages were identified by Piaget, however the research methodology employed in this classic study was somewhat weak and subject to criticism. Harold Fishbein of the University of Cincinnati developed a tighter experimental design to study children's spatial development, modifying Piaget's original coordination of perspectives task to include systematic rotations of the object display. The present text describes two experiments using Fishbein's methods with 300 children from 5 to 13 years. The results indicate that up-down relationships among objects are learned first, back-front space relations are mastered by age 10 but left-right confusion is seen up to 12 years.