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The purpose of the proposed study is to examine toddlers through replication of the study conducted by Berger and Adolph. Specifically, we will investigate infant's abilities and cognitive understanding in crossing the bridge and handrail use. Also, to examine children's decisions to use a handrail when given narrow bridges. Specifically, in addition to the assessments made in the original study, we are interested in examining toddler's problem-solving ability by also including further assessments of the ways in which children choose to use the tools available to them during a difficult locomotor task. This will present a break from the norm set by most researchers who concentrate on studying the relationship between a child's ability and development, and the actions and environment surrounding the child. For instance, the study conducted by Berger and Adolph just considers how changing the size of the bridge makes a child to adopt a different strategy (using the handrail) in crossing the bridge but does not asses how the child chooses to use the handrail.
One of the major hypotheses in the study is that children are able to use "means-ends" problem solving skills to solve problems and are able to perform at a higher level of cognition than originally believed. We expect to find that most infants and toddlers would be able to grasp the need for a handrail in narrow bridges and would be able to cross successfully. Another hypothesis for our study will be that toddlers will make more attempts to cross the bridge when the handrail is present and given wider bridge.
In order to examine toddlers, we conducted a replication of the original study by Berger and Adolph (2003). The independent variables in the present study were the width of the bridge (12, 24, 36, and 48) and handrail presence (yes or no). The dependent variables of interest for the study were: 1) number of attempts the child made at crossing the bridge, 2) whether or not the child used the handrail, 3) number of times the child used the handrail, 4) amount of time the child took to cross the bridge, 5) number of steps the child took in crossing the bridge, 6) the influence of the adult on the child, 7) what type of toy was used to coax the child to cross the bridge, 8) amount of time given to the child by the adult to cross the bridge, and 9) latency or the amount of time the child waited before attempting to cross the bridge. The hypothesis was that the toddlers will more readily attempt crossing the bridge if given a wider space and they will attempt the narrower bridges more often if a handrail is present. Archival videos from the original study were used in the data coding for the dependent variables.
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