Representational modes of thinking employed by children aged thirteen and fourteen, and their relationship to performance in standardised tests of ability, measures of creativity and personality

  • F.W. Potter

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis proposes that despite many experimental studies of thinking, and the development of models of thinking, such as Bruner's (1966) enactive, iconic and symbolic developmental modes, the imagery and inner verbal strategies used by children need further investigation to establish a coherent, theoretical basis from which to create experimental curricula for direct improvement of those strategies.
Five hundred and twenty-three first, second and third year comprehensive
school children were tested on 'recall' imagery, using a modified Betts Imagery Test; and a test of dual-coding processes (Paivio, 1971, p.179), by the P/W Visual/Verbal Questionnaire, measuring 'applied imagery' and inner verbalising. Three lines of investigation were pursued:
1. An investigation
a. of hypothetical representational strategy differences between boys and girls; and
b. the extent to which strategies change with increasing age.
2. The second and third year children's use of representational processes, were taken separately and compared with performance measures of perception, field independence, creativity, self-sufficiency and self-concept.
3. The second and third year children were categorised into four dual-coding
strategy groups:
a. High Visual/High Verbal b. Low Visual/High Verbal
c. High Visual/Low Verbal d. Low Visual/Low Verbal
These groups were compared on the same performance measures.
The main result indicates that:
1. A hierarchy of dual-coding strategy use can be identified that is
significantly related (.01, Binomial Test) to success or failure in the performance measures: the High Visual/High Verbal group registering the highest scores, the Low Visual/High Verbal and High Visual/Low Verbal groups registering intermediate scores, and the Low Visual/Low Verbal group registering the lowest scores on the performance measures.
Subsidiary results indicate that:
2. Boys' use of visual strategies declines, and of verbal strategies increases, with age; girls' recall imagery strategy increases with age.
Educational implications from the main result are discussed, the establishment of experimental curricula proposed, and further research suggested.
Date of AwardMar 1977
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorNorman Graham (Supervisor)


  • children
  • modes of thinking
  • relationship to performance in tests of ability
  • measures of creativity and personality

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