Peer assistance in children's problem solving
The British Psychological Society
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Psychology
The current study aimed to investigate the extent to which the creation of a context which facilitates conversation and communication would enhance the cognitive capacities of children working on recognized problems. Using a collaborative problem-solving paradigm, the communication patterns of pairs of 4- and 7-year-old children were analysed. It was found that collaborative problem solving facilitated lower ability children's subsequent individual problem solving when they were paired with higher ability children. In addition, it was found that older children used more language during collaboration. Holding number of utterances as a covariate, older children used more procedural language and more descriptive language than younger children and lower ability children used more language for checking with their partner. These uses of language were interpreted as demonstrating awareness on the part of older children of the other person in the collaboration although the extent to which this assisted subsequent problem-solving ability in less able children of either age is not clear and requires further theoretical explication.