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The Effects of Computer Use on Creative Thinking Among Kindergarten Children in Jordan

Aseel Shawareb

The objective of the current study was to examine the effect of early computer ex- perience, using quasi-experimental design, on creative thinking among Jordanian kindergarten children. It intended to answer two main research questions. First, does adding a computer to a kindergarten environment enhance children's creative think- ing? Second, does children's creative thinking differ due to gender? Experimental group consists of (37) and the control groups consist Of (39) child. In this study the Arabic Jordanian version of Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking TTCT was used. Each class of the experimental groups have computer learning center, as well as pre- installed developmentally appropriate educational software programs. The findings show statistically significant differences between the experimental and the control groups only on creative thinking total score. All dimensions show no significant differences between boys and girls, and no effect of interaction between group and gender. In the light of the findings of this study, some recommendations are presented. Key words: computer, creative thinking, kindergarten.

The power of any nation depends greatly on the quality of new knowledge and unique information that it integrates into its educational system. Even though, the effects of the technological revolution are visible in classrooms everywhere and computers have become commonplace, from preschool to graduate school, and the changes they have brought might be most dramatic and unexpected in programs for young children, there is still much to learn about how children use computers in order to understand the contribution they can make to young children's social, emotional, physical and cognitive development. Thus, and due to the importance of early childhood computer use in the development of minds and bodies of young children and their creative thinking, the Ministry of Education (MoE) in Jordan announced in 2003, its Strategic Project "Developing Education towards Knowledge

Aseel Alshawareb, Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Sciences, Petra University, Amman, Jordan.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Dr. Aseel Alshawareb at [email protected]

Economy (ERFKE)" to promote the quality of the teaching process at all levels including the early childhood education paying more attention to creativity and critical thinking strategies emphasizing on the use of comput- ers and the new technology (Jordan Times, 2002). Given the discrepancies in empirical studies regarding the potential impact of computer use on young children in the Arab World in general and Jordan in particular, it is important to examine the impact of computer experience on children creative thinking.

Facing the challenges and complexities of today's life calls on developed societies to change the methods they adopt in teach- ing kids in kindergartens by means of using new approaches that are expected to discard traditional teaching .This entails the introduc- tion of modernized curricula that implements the methodology of integrated technology, especially at this critical stage of children's education (Lally, 2001; Samaras, 1996). As a matter of fact, this stage will by no means bear its fruits without a sound scientific ap- proach built on accurate, comprehensive and technologically integratedmethodology. Ac- cordingly, this approach will suit the nature of this stage and children's needs, in addition

273

214/Journal of Instructional Psychology, Vol. 38, No. 4

to providing an educational environment with trained and qualified technical cadre at all levels. Kindergarten teachers are some- times unable to achieve the desired goals, as a result of the insufficiency of and shortages in modernized and developed curricula and other supportive educational activities which meet kids ' needs. In addition, they themselves (teachers) are not adequately or sufficiently qualified to perform their task and mission (Lally, 2001; Samaras, 1996).

Studies show that pre-school stage is very important in the evolution and development of children, as it helps in the formation of their personality and ensuring their lifelong learning. Specialists agree that children's personalities (in it's all aspects) are formed in the first five years, and 60% of their in- telligence becomes mature in the first four years. They also think that the first five years are critical in the growth of kids' basic developmental skills. Since childhood is the most fruitful stage which prepares children and enables them to acquire various concepts and skills, it is advisable that educationalists and teachers work together and cooperate to develop such practices from the earliest stage, taking into account the advantage of using computer software as an amusing and didactic tool. This sort of software wiU indeed help in managing and exploiting children's energy and potential to satisfy their desires and attitudes, rather than wasting efforts in trivialities. Modem technology has become a necessary means to keep pace with the era of knowledge and development. In the case of children, it helps them to develop positive attitudes towards learning, and prepares them for future life in the age of information and concepts. Being aware of children teaching methods, educationalists and teachers are obliged to invest technology to achieve this goal. Children learn through methods that satisfy their curiosity, playing and doing various activities that encourage them to use their senses, experimentation and posi- tive social interaction with their peers and

the adults around them (Samuelsson, 2001; Samaras, 1996).

It has been said that creative thinking has been categorized as something we are bom with, but others have said that it can be developed through activities and teaching strategies. Everyone has creative abilities. Children naturally display creative energy, but creativity seems to decline through the aging process.

Van Hook andTegano (2002) defined cre- ativity as "an interpersonal and intrapersonal process by means of which original, high- quality and genuinely significant products are developed" (p. 1 ).and added that creativ- ity involves "the openness to ideas and the willingness to encourage the exploration of the unknown, even if not easily manageable".

Creative thinking is a novel way of seeing or doing things characterized by four thinking processes: fluency, flexibility, origi- nality and elaboration. Fluency is described as generating many ideas while flexibility occurs when a person easily shifts his or her perspective about a topic being considered. Originality has been explained as conceiving new ideas or solutions whereas elaboration is the ability to build on other ideas. When faced with challenges, a creative person is curious, optimistic, able to suspend judgment, and comfortable with imagination. He also tends to seek problems, enjoy challenges, see problems as opportunities and as interesting, view problems as emotionally acceptable, challenge assumptions, refuse to give up easily, and persevere.

Young children can engage in sophis- ticated cognitive processes (Rogoff, 1990). Educators and researchers are attempting to identify which intellectual skills can be developed, and what are the most effective ways to encourage learning in the classroom. Such questions have led to a renewed focus upon the development of children's critical and creative thinking skills, as well as an inter- est in instructional approaches that facilitate the development of such abilities. And since

Children in Jordan.. 1215

schools are charged with the responsibility of teaching children how to think (Coles & Robinson, 1991), it is important for teachers to teach children how to think, so that children can learn to make use of information.

Some educators argue that specific pro- grams such as De Bono's CORT materials, Lipman's philosophy programs, and Feuer- stein's Instrumental Enrichment program (Fisher, 1995) can develop children's think- ing and learning skills. Others recommend incorporating the teaching of thinking skills across the curriculum. Such an approach as- sumes that teaching children meta-cognitive skills (i .e., awareness of one's own cognitive functioning) is related to higher-order critical and creative thinking skills (McLeod, 1997). Research indicates that programs used to improve children's cognitive skills typically define thinking, identify the specific skills to be taught, provide direct and systematic classroom instruction on how to use such skills, and how to devise and employ devel- opmental curricula. Selected thinking skills then can be taught for various content areas (Schlicter, 1985). In this study, a program based on computer use examined its effect on children creative thinking. The literature has employed a number of theories of child development to speculate on the potential impact of computer use in early childhood (Brady & Hill, 1984; Elkind, 1987). In Vy- gotsky's (1962) theory of socially mediated cognitive development, the development of cognitive concepts is conceptualized as re- sulting from interactions between maturation and instruction. From Vygotsky 's perspective, mental functioning develops through medi- ated experience with cultural tools. As such, humans use physical tools, make new cultural tools, and teach others how to use tools. This development of mental functioning, in turn, expands mental tools (e.g., internalized tools that extend a human being's capacity to re- member, attend to, and solve problems) and promotes the development of higher mental functions (e .g., mediated perception, focused

attention, deliberate memory, self-regulation, and logical thinking) that are deliberate, mediated, internalized behaviors acquired through learning and teaching (Bodrova & Leong, 1996).

Vy gotsky (1962) also recognized the importance of scaffolding in allowing young children to move forward in the social envi- ronment and build new competencies (Bo- drova & Leong, 1996). Based on Vygotsky's (1962) notion, it has been hypothesized that computers programmed with developmen- tally appropriate, interactive software can serve as a mediating tool to scaffold cogni- tive performance and concept development among young children. Computers, by pro- viding assistance to children's learning, act as scaffolding agents and lead to increased cognitive development.

Piaget's development theory has also been widely invoked in discussions concerning the appropriateness of early computer use among young children. Piaget posited that children's development consists of a sequence of stages from birth through adolescence (McCormick & Pressley, 1997). Based on Piaget's theory, researchers argued that, because of the abstract nature of computer programs and computer images, children should reach the concrete operational stage (around 7 years of age) or achieve greater intellectual maturity before using computers (Brady & Hill, 1984; Elkind, 1987). However, some studies indicated that preschoolers can appropriately use computer programs (Clements & Nastasi, 1992; Cle- ments, 1993), and have demonstrated a posi- tive effect of early computer use on children's physical and psychological development. Ex- amining the effects of a computer curriculum among children using three developmentally appropriate content areas of early childhood, Ainsa (1989) found that the computer cur- riculum led to increases in cognitive, motor, and language development scores, as meastired by an early screening test, when compared to children receiving a non supplemented cur- riculum . Haugland ( 1992) found that children

216/ Journal of Instructional Psychology, Vol. 38, No. 4

exposed to developmentally appropriate soft- ware showed significant gains in cognitive skills, creativity, and self-esteem. Following the general guidelines established by the Na- tional Association for the Education of Young Children (Bredekamp, 1987), characteristics of developmentally appropriate software may include age appropriateness, expanding complexity (e.g., open-ended, exploratory, and trial and error), child control, and real- world models (e.g., concrete representations of people, animals, and objects that function realistically) (Haugland & Wright, 1997). In addition, developmentally appropriate software should foster children's self-esteem and encourage creativity and problem solv- ing (Ainsa, 1995; Primavera, Wiederlight, & DiGiacomo,2001).

In their study, Li and Atkins (2004) examined the association of home com- puter use with children's school readiness and psychomotor development and found a significant association between computer access and children's performance on cogni- tive and psychomotor tests, controlling for children's developmental stage and family socioeconomic status. Children who had ac- cess to a computer in the home environment (e.g., home and other nonschool settings) performed significantly better in preschool concepts and cognitive skills (both verbal tasks and performance tasks) than children who had less or no access to a computer.

Many studies suggested that training does affect creativity (De Bono, 2004; Barha, 2000). It is clear that future research is nec- essary to investigate the effects of using a creativity training program on kindergarten children creative thinking, and the effect of using computers to emphasize knowledge and reproduction.

Therefore, the objective of the current study was to examine the effect of early com- puter experience, using quasi-experimental design, on creative thinking among Jordanian kindergarten children. It intended to answer two main research questions. First, does

adding a computer to a kindergarten environ- ment enhance children's creative thinking? Second, does children's creative thinking differ due to gender?

Significance of the Study This study is important that introduces

a new application that were not dealt with in previous research studies such as using computers programs to develop creative thinking. And the results will provide useful data that may help in planning kindergartens' leaming activities and designing appropriate programs for Jordanian kindergarten taking in consider the need of developing creative thinking skills in such critical stage.

The results of this study may help Jor- danian kindergarten principles to pay more attention to using computers as a tool to develop children thinking.

Finally, this study is considered impor- tant due to the fact that the Arabic education and psychological literature are lacking research studies that investigate the effect of computer using in teaching kindergarten children. Therefore this study will cover some of the gaps in this area.

Decision-Makers at the Ministry of Edu- cation may benefit of the results of this study in preparing curriculum based on computer in kindergarten.

Methods Participants

The children were randomized for the present study, and distributed on two groups by classroom: two experimental groups re- ceived the daily computer access, and two control groups received only the standard curriculum. Experimental group consists of (37) child (12) male and (25) female. The control groups consist Of (39) child ( 10) male and (29) female.

Study design For the purpose of this study, a post test

experimental design for an experimental and

Children in Jordan .. / 217

control groups was employed because its goal to examine the effect of using computer on the creative thinking skills of kindergarten children.

Instruments Torrance Test of Creative Thinking – Fig- urai, form A.

The Torrance Tests of Creative Think- ing (TTCT) were first published by E. Paul Torrance and his associates in 1966. There are two forms (A and B) of the TTCT- Ver- bal and two forms (A and B) of the TTCT -Figurai. This study used only the TTCT- Figural form (form A). It has been trans- lated into over 35 languages (Miller, 2002). In this study the Arabic Jordanian version TTCT developed by Rayd Alshanty (1983) was used.

The TTCT- Fergal is the most widely used test of creativity, and has been used in more research than any other creativity test ( Al Sror, 1998). The TTCT -Figurai are un- biased in terms of gender, race, and cultural backgrounds (Torrance, 1974).

Each form of the test consist of three ac- tivities: each designed to measure of creative function. In brief description of the activities included in TTCT-Figural Form A:

Activity 1 : Picture construction consists of one curved shape.

Activity 2: Picture Completion consists of ten incomplete linear figures.

Activity 3: Picture of ten sets of paral- lel lines.

These three activities provide scores for norm referenced mental characteristics: Fluency, Originality, and Elaboration respec- tively. Fluency refers to the number of ideas a person expresses through interpretable responses that use the stimulus in meaningful manner. Originality refers to the infrequency and unusualness of the response. In scoring elaboration, credit is given for each pertinent detail added to the original stimulus figure

(Torrance, 1998). Reliability and validity of the used ver-

sion was found by Alshanty, 1983.

Computer Program Each class of the experimental groups

have computer learning center, including computer with dual headsets, speakers, and printer, as well as pre-installed develop- mentally appropriate educational software programs (such as Millie's Math House, Bailey's Book House, Sammy's Science House, Thinking' Things 1, KidPix, Dr. Se- uss's ABC). As part of the daily curriculum, each child in the computer classroom was given the opportunity to work alone for 10- 15 minutes per day with his or her choice of educational software. These educational programs were the only software available to children at the computer learning center in the classroom. And 45 minutes weekly the experimental groups have computer class in the lab where they leam individually how to use computer.

The program was used over 12 weeks for first semester 2008/2009 .The researcher met with teachers individually to introduce the purposes, activities of the computer pro- gram and how to related it to the themes they taught. The program was developing to help children to apply all the activities they learnt on computer. The researcher observed each group and met teachers every week to ensure that the program was being implemented as planned. Posttest was administrated to the experimental and control groups immediately after the classroom training was finished.

Data Analysis The Statistical Package for Social Sci-

ence (SPSS; 1998) was used for the initial screening data and the subsequent analysis. Data were analyzed using descriptive statis- tics (means, standard deviations). Indepen- dent T-testand analysis of variance (ANO VA) on the total score and multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA), and analysis of

218/ Journal of Instnjctional Psychology, Vol. 38, No. 4

covariance on each dimension separately.

Results This study was designed to examine the

differences between experimental and con- trol group on the dimensions of TTCT. Table 1 shows the means and the standard devia- tions of the groups and for each dimension.

Table 1 show that there were overall differences between the means of experi- mental and control groups on all dimensions favoring the experimental group, the differ- ences were varied across dimensions. The difference in the fluency and the originality was bigger than the other two dimensions. In order to find the significance of these dif- ferences a multivariate analysis of variance

(MANOVA) was conducted. Table 2 shows a summary of MANO VA results.

The findings show statistically signifi- cant differences between the experimental and the control groups only on creative thinking total score. All dimensions show no signifi- cant differences between boys and girls, and no effect of interaction between group and gender, except on the elaboration dimension and on the total score which shows a signifi- cant differences due to gender. In order to find the sources of these significant differences univariateANOVA was conducted.Table (3) shows the findings.

This study was designed to examine the differences between experimental and control group on the dimensions of TTCT,

Table 1 Means, Standard Deviations of Groups and Dimensions

Group

Fluency

Elaboration

Originality

experimental

control

Total

experimental

control

total

experimental control

total

Gender

Male

Mean

15.00

11.90

13.59

15.83

10.10

13.23

8.75

8.80

8.77

Sd

2.49

2.08

2.75

1.75

2.92

3.72

0.75

2.94

2.00

Female

Mean

15.08

11.59

13.20

13.76

9.07

11.24

8.88

7.07

7.91

Sd

3.26

2.40

3.31

2.22

2.40

3.30

2.51

2.30

2.54

Total

Mean

15.05

11.67

13.32

14.43

9.33

11.82

8.84

7.51

8.16

Sd

3.00

2.30

3.15

2.28

2.55

3.52

2.09

2.55

2.42

Table 2 Analysis ofMANOVAfor the Differences According to Group,

Gender, and the Interaction Effects

Group

Gender

Walks lambada

0.436

0.478

Degrees of freedom

Num

4

4

Dom.

69

69

F value

22.274

2.476

Sig. Level

0.000

0.052

Children in Jordan .. / 219

Table 3 Two Way Analysis of Variance on Each Creativity Dimension

According to Group Effects

Dimension

Fluency

Elaboration

Flexibility

Source of Variance

Group

Error

Total

Group Error

Total

Group

Error

Total

Total

168.64

523.77

742.42

12.03 382.35

438.11

8.25

436.20

463.93

DF

1

72

75

1 72

75

1

72

75

Mean

168.64

7.27

12.03 5.31

8.25

6.06

Sig. F

23.18

2.27

1.36

Level of

Sig.

0.00

0.14

0.25

table (1) shows means and Stander deviation data shows a statistical significant differences between the experimental and the control group in general either by using the MAN- CO VA (multivariate analysis of covariance) in the dimensions or using ANCO VA on the total score , the analysis of covariance on each dimension separately show that fluency and elaboration had significant difference the f-values (23.18,77.62)

All dimensions show no significant differences between males and females, and no effect of interaction between group and gender. Except on the elaboration dimension and on the total score which shows a signifi- cant differences due to gender.

Discussion The purpose of this study was to in-

vestigate the effects of computer using in kindergarten on children creative thinking.

The findings of the multivariate analysis of variance revealed that there were differ- ences between the experimental and control groups regarding the creative thinking abilities. Children who used computers in the classroom performed significantly better

than who did not use computer. These find- ings means that computer using by children enhance children creative skills, which other researchers have found (Li & Atkins ,2004 ).

When children engaged in their today's favor activities, and related them to their curriculum that will help them especially in fluency and originality that children can derive many new ideas about what they leam (in using colors. Shapes, and all things avail- able to use by computer).

In conclusion, the results of this study suggest that using computers in kindergarten impact children's creative thinking skills. It is also suggested that it is important to consider having a computer comer in kindergartens' classrooms as well as to plan various activi- ties related to everj' theme in order to help children building creative

activities, and to promote using comput- ers at early age.

Recommendations In the light of the findings, the following

recommendations are presented: 1- It would be highly beneficial for the

Ministry of Education in Jordan to set up and

2201 Journal of Instructional Psychology, Vol. 38, A/o. 4

reinforce using computers at kindergartens. 2- The Ministry of Education should

conduct some in-service training on using computers in appropriate approaches to help teachers in planning learning activities.

3- Future research should consider in- corporating on-site observations of children creativity ; This would strengthen the validity of the study.

4- More studies could be conducted to further explore the effect of using computer among kindergarten children abilities in general.

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Elkind,D.(1987).Thechild,yesterday,today and tomorrow. Young Children, 42(4), 6-11.

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Lally, B. (2001). Teaching children to read using technology. T.H.E. Journal, 28(9), 56-57.

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,

RESEARCH ARTICLE

Designing computer-based learning contents: influence of digital zoom on attention

Manuela Glaser1 • Dominik Lengyel2,3 • Catherine Toulouse2,3 •

Stephan Schwan1

Published online: 27 October 2016 � Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2016

Abstract In the present study, we investigated the role of digital zoom as a tool for directing attention while looking at visual learning material. In particular, we analyzed

whether minimal digital zoom functions similarly to a rhetorical device by cueing mental

zooming of attention accordingly. Participants were presented either static film clips, film

clips with minimal zoom-ins, or film clips with minimal zoom-outs while eye movements

were recorded. We hypothesized that minimal zoom-ins should lead to more gaze

coherence, to longer dwell times as an indicator of more elaborative processing, and to

fewer transitions as an indicator of less mental integration. Zoom-outs, on the other hand,

were expected to have opposite effects. Results showed that zoom-ins increase gaze

coherence and dwell times on the center parts of the depictions while decreasing transitions

of pictorial elements from the center and the context areas. In contrast, patterns of results

from zoom-outs and static presentations were similar to a large