Menu

Education Today Logo


newsletter

Education Today Cover Browse Issue

Virtual puzzles can teach kids to solve real-world problems

News Image

Swinburne researchers have shown that children can apply the skills they learn on a tablet to the real world.The research shows that when four to six-year-olds learn how to solve a puzzle using a tablet, they then apply this learning to the same puzzle in the physical world.

The findings contradict most previous research and suggest that the real world skill learned by a child from a device depends on the actual game played.

"These results demonstrate that 'screen time' is not a useful umbrella phrase, as what children can obtain from different types of screen media will vary, and numerous factors can impact their learning outcomes," says Swinburne researcher Dr Joanne Tarasuik. 

In a previous study, Dr Tarasuik and colleagues found that children in Australia could learn how to solve a puzzle on a touchscreen device, and successfully transfer these skills to completing the same puzzle in the physical world.

As this finding was contradictory to most previous research, the team repeated the study with new children with different languages and cultures to confirm it. In the replication study, recently published in Frontiers in Psychology, the Australian team collaborated with researchers in Croatia to repeat their original study.

The study used the 'Tower of Hanoi' puzzle, which involves moving discs between pegs so that they line up in order on a different peg, using the smallest possible number of moves.

The children practised the puzzle on a touchscreen app, or with a physical version using wooden pegs and discs. The researchers measured how many moves they took to complete it, and how long they spent doing it.

Some of the children practised the puzzle several times on the tablet before trying it on the wooden version. This allowed the researchers to see if the kids' virtual practice could improve their skills in the physical world.

The children all needed a similar number of moves to complete the wooden puzzle, regardless of whether they had practised using the virtual puzzle, the physical puzzle, or a combination of the two. From the first to final attempt at the puzzle, all the children also improved their speed.

"We successfully replicated our previous findings that four to six-year-old children can apply knowledge of this puzzle from practice using a touchscreen device, to the physical version of the puzzle," Dr Tarasuik said.

“We would like these results to guide future research into how and what children of different developmental stages can learn via touchscreen technology, and then apply in the physical world."


20 Sep 2018
Recommendations to streamline teaching careers launched News Image

Recommendations provide clear steps to maintain or improve the high standards of the teaching profession, strengthen child safety, and streamline teacher registration across Australia. Read More

20 Sep 2018 | National
Who wins in new funding model? News Image

It’s now settled, parents’ incomes will be the basis of funding provided to schools, the approach is fairer but some sectors will be better off than others.
Read More

20 Sep 2018 | National
Funding changes postponed News Image

Minister Dan Tehan’s extension of 2018 funding arrangements to 2019 provides immediate certainty for schools planning for the new year, while allowing time for further work to be undertaken on the issue. Read More

19 Sep 2018 | National
Uni courses for the most profitable career News Image

The more things change the more they don’t, especially when it comes to graduate earning potential says the Grattan Institute’s Mapping Australian Higher Education report. Read More

19 Sep 2018 | National
Mentoring helps low SES students win at life News Image

The ABCN Foundation has been working with students from low-SES schools since 2005 and is the only organisation of its kind to offer the combination of mentoring and financial support. Read More