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Young Children’s Spontaneous Manifestation of Self-Regulation and Metacognition During Constructional Play Tasks


by Ornit Spektor-Levy, Marisol Basilio, Antonia Zachariou & David Whitebread — 2017

The value of self-regulation for academic achievement is well established. Thus it is paramount to understand how these abilities are developed throughout childhood and to develop research methodologies appropriate to the abilities of young children. In light of this need, we analyzed performances of primary school children in two constructional play tasks: The Train Track Task (TTT) and the LEGO® Building Task (LBT). We asked: To what extent do young children manifest spontaneous self-regulatory abilities during constructional play tasks? To what extent is the manifestation of these abilities task dependent? The sample consisted of 106 children in Year 1 to 5 in the United Kingdom (i.e., aged 5 to 10 years). All participants were given the same tasks and were video-recorded. Clips were coded following the MetaSCoPE coding scheme. Results show that the different components of self-regulation do develop between Years 1 and 5 but not at a constant pace. Findings reveal inconsistency regarding the question of whether self-regulation abilities are task dependent. Our findings hold practical implications: Constructional play tasks are good opportunities to reveal young children’s self-regulation abilities in class. The development of teachers’ awareness may help to better understand children’s cognitive, affective, and social development and to adjust learning activities to the needs of young individuals.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 119 Number 13, 2017, p. -
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 21931, Date Accessed: 10/21/2017 3:46:31 PM

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About the Author
  • Ornit Spektor-Levy
    Bar Ilan University
    E-mail Author
    ORNIT SPEKTOR-LEVY is a faculty member at the Science Education Center, School of Education, Bar Ilan University. Her educational research focuses on development of scientific curiosity and literacy (Spektor-Levy, Baruch, & Mevarech, 2013); engineering thinking; information literacy; professional development of science teachers (Spektor-Levy & Abramovitch, 2016); and information and communication technologies. She is the director of Da-Gan Center–the Israeli National teacher center for STEM education in preschool.
  • Marisol Basilio
    University of Cambridge
    E-mail Author
    MARISOL BASILIO is a developmental and educational psychologist. She is a research fellow at the Faculty of Education of the University of Cambridge, working as part of the Research Centre in Play in Education, Development and Learning. Her research interests are concerned with the interplay between language, self-regulation, and play in children’s development.
  • Antonia Zachariou
    University of Roehampton
    E-mail Author
    ANTONIA ZACHARIOU is a lecturer in early childhood studies in the School of Education, University of Roehampton, London. Antonia initially studied for a BA (Honors) in Education-Primary School Education at the University of Cyprus. She went on to complete an MPhil and a PhD in education (psychology and education) at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. Antonia’s PhD explored the relationship between children’s musical play and self-regulation.
  • David Whitebread
    University of Cambridge
    E-mail Author
    DAVID WHITEBREAD is the director of the Centre for Research on Play in Education, Development and Learning at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, UK. He is a developmental psychologist whose research has focused on metacognition and self-regulation in young children, and the roles of play and oral language in its development. His publications include Teaching and Learning in the Early Years (4th Ed. 2015, Routledge) and Developmental Psychology & Early Childhood Education (2012, Sage).
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