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Relationships between drawing a cube and copying a line diagram of a cube in 8- and 9-year-old children

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2000
<mark>Journal</mark>Child Development
Issue number3
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)619-634
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Previous research has suggested both links and differences between children's copying of line diagrams and their drawings of solid objects. If the diagram represents a familiar object, children make more errors than when copying a diagram of a nonobject or unfamiliar object, as if they are drawing from their representation of the object rather than copying the surface features of the diagram. However, copying a diagram yields fewer and different types of errors than drawing the equivalent solid, which suggests a different process. In Experiment 1 (n = 72), possible relations between copying and drawing are investigated by asking children to draw a solid cube, then to copy or trace a line diagram of the cube in oblique projection, and finally to draw the solid again. Copying was better than drawing, and there was positive transfer to a subsequent drawing. Tracing was very accurate, but transfer to drawing did not occur, possibly because of the automatic nature of tracing. In Experiment 2 (n = 120) different groups received versions of the copying task that differed in the extent to which temporal order of line copying was structured. Asking children to copy the lines in a systematic order led to improved copies, but this performance did not carry over to a subsequent drawing of the solid. In contrast, when temporal ordering of line copying was not manipulated, there was positive transfer from copying to the subsequent drawing. In Experiment 3 (n = 80), provision of structure that emphasized faces by color-groupings of lines or coloring faces led to improved copies and did not hinder transfer to drawing the solid. Experiment 4 (n = 90) showed that in a solid drawing task emphasis on faces but not edges produced a positive effect, both on the immediate drawing and on a subsequent drawing of a plain cube. We conclude that emphasis on order of line copying improves performance in a copying task because in that case line-to-line matching is an important element of the skill, whereas this does not aid drawing of the solid object, in which the focus is primarily on representation of faces and their interrelations.