Education Psychology

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Cognitive development is a branch of psychology and neuroscience concerned with a child's growth. In such circumstances, the development studied includes conceptual resources, information processing, language learning, perceptual skills, and other components involved in brain development (Bandura, 1993). Cognitive development focuses on how a person thinks and perceives information and diverse conditions around them. The field also focuses on gaining a knowledge of one's surroundings and relationships with others.

Drawing has long been used as a form of nonverbal communication and a tool to assess cognitive development in youngsters. The method has dictated psychologists to do extensive research in the area. According to the study by Inhelder and Piaget (1971), the development of drawing starts when a child is young and goes through distractive stages into more representative forms (Jackson, 2012). The steps begin at the twelve months to around five to six years. Whenever a child is told to draw a man or a woman, he or she is expected to make a drawing of him or herself or just a picture of the two. In this case, the critical aspect is not to look at the drawing formats, the time limit or specific instructions. The score of the child is determined by the missing parts of the drawing. The analyst must be able to consider the fourteen aspects of illustration of a body, for example, the presence or absence of fingers. The proportion of the drawing made by the child is also considered in the process. The score of the child is then evaluated based on the standard ratings to determine his or her intellectual ability.

The interest in human drawings has also got attention from clinical practitioners. Assessments of pictures are made to determine the developmental and emotional changes taking place in a child. The illustrations are used as indicators of symbols and signs for development in children between the ages five and twelve years (Worden, 1996). In this case, the drawing made by a child is not used as an indication of intellectual abilities or maturation. However, they are used to reflect the attitudes, concerns and anxieties of the child. According to Koppitz (1968), these are Emotional Indicators which give specific conflicts, tensions and traits that a child is experiencing. For example, when a child makes a drawing with folded hands, it may be translated to mean guilt. Insecurity in a child may make him, or her to produce a smaller figure. Therefore, the underlying attitudes and feelings of a child can be reflected by the size and quality of the drawing he or she makes.

Research methodology

In the study, the researcher utilized gender as a way of getting the required information from the respondents. Therefore, several participant groups under the classification mainstream, long stay and short stay and sex were the primary independent variables involved in the research. The classification of participants was done according to the duration a person has stayed in the hospital and the gender of the child (Wertsh and Tulviste, 1990). Those respondents who had remained in the hospital for more than two weeks were classified under long stay patients. The same method had been used by Koppitz in his research in the year 1968 to assess the EIs considered in human figure drawings. The size of the pictures was measured in centimeters.

For the study, twenty-nine children were considered. These children were from a hospital school. Fourteen of them were female, and fifteen were male (SD, 9.17, mean age = 2.12). Other twenty-eight children were taken from a mainstream school located in the northern part of London. Among them were thirteen males and fifteen females (SD, 9.1, mean age= 2.13). All the children used in the study both from the mainstream and hospital schools were born in the United Kingdom. Eighteen of the total population of children used in the study were long-stay patients. Nine of them were males, and the remaining nine were females. The other eleven children were short-stay patients. Among them were six male and five girls.

The respondents were provided with the necessary materials. The tools included a pencil sharpener, standard blank paper A4 size and some black pencils. The study was ethically approved by the hospital school and the University where the authors were situated. Parental approval was obtained and both the head teachers from the mainstream and hospital schools gave their consent. The administration of the materials for the study was performed by one of the researchers who was working in a hospital. The participants were tested on an individual basis considering the time that was convenient for both the school activities and the hospital routine. The data collection process took three weeks (Wechsler, 2008). During the study, half of the participants were made to draw pictures of themselves. After that, they made drawings of their best friends. The children in the hospital school were instructed to make drawings of their best friends outside the area. For the other half, the sequence of drawing was reversed. During the study, there were no time limits indicated to give the children ample time to make their drawings. However, according to the statistics obtained by the researchers, most of the children finished their drawings within a period of fifteen minutes. The emotional indicators were used to give scores to the children. For the drawings that presented emotions, a score of one was given. Those which showed no emotions, a zero was awarded. According to the arguments brought forward, these were the best method of analyzing emotional indicators. The score determined the EI of the children. The highest score meant high emotional indicators. Measurements of the drawings were made to help in doing a further analysis of the research. Each measurement was given in centimeters which is the basic and common unit.

The researchers presented the emotional indicators for each child in a table. The information presented was based on the standards deviations of corresponding self-drawing, drawing of best friend and gender. The primary variables in the research that is, participant and gender together with the mean rating were subjected to analysis of variance. Each analysis was done once for the best friend's drawing and a separate one done for the drawing of self (Wertsh and Tulviste, 1990). According to the results obtained, there was no significant difference regarding the drawing size for both gender and participant groups. On the other hand, there emerged an overall difference regarding the drawing sizes between best friend and self. In all the cases, the children made self-drawings larger than that of their best friends.

The values obtained from the ANOVA table are considered as the results of the study. If the values indicate a significant difference between the drawings of the two groups of children, for example, those in the hospital and mainstream schools, then there are differences in emotional indicators. Based on all the aspects of the analysis, that is, size, color and missing features, the researcher can determine the score of each child and indicate the significant differences between them.


The principal aim of the research was to determine the difference in the expression of emotions by children in mainstream and hospital schools. The state of health was a consideration during the investigation. The study was to determine whether the medical conditions had any effects on the cognitive abilities of children (Simera et al., 2010). Through the use of drawings, the researchers identified the state of a child's cognitive skills. Therefore, the primary objective of the study was to do an investigation in the extent the children in hospital schools can utilize their emotions in the drawing of human figures of their best friends and that of themselves. The study looked at the effect that various durations of stay of the children in the hospital had on their cognitive abilities. The importance of drawings as a non-verbal method of determining the cognitive ability of a child was crucial in the research. The study put into consideration emotional indicators to show specific conflicts, anxiety and traits that a child has during the time he or she makes the drawing (Stiles-Davis et al., 1988). The proposal relied on the signs that would come out from drawings made by children in different emotional and physical states. The research considered the human drawings of the best friend and self in different environments and mental and physical states. The research made comparisons of two groups of children. One of the teams involve children who have been referred for counselling services (Worden, 1996). The other group comprises children who are not utilizing any counselling services. The study is to determine which group exhibits a higher number regarding the emotional indicators by comparing drawings. The proposal has a clinical validity and should provide a clinical distinction between human drawings made by children with psychological problems and those without. The study will also determine the infrequency in the drawings of the children with the emotional issue and the normal ones. According to the survey by Saarni and Harris (1989), children display resilient emotions when they are hospitalized. Therefore, if a child can exhibit such emotions in drawings, then it is a valid method of determining the emotional state of a child.

Therefore, one of the active ways of determining whether there are differences in the emotional indicators of children who are hospitalized and those with normal states is through the use of human drawings. The difference in the human drawings of the children in mainstream and hospital schools can be a better way of assessing the emotional indicators of the children. There are many possible outcomes for the research (Wechsler, 2008). One of the results may show that there are no significant differences in the emotional indicators of the children in mainstream and hospital schools. The other effect may show that there is a significant difference between the two groups of children.

Using the sizes and elements of the body, the researchers will be able to determine the differences between the two groups of children. The study will also concentrate on the direct relationship between the emotions and drawings of the children by considering color and sizes. Through these means, the researchers will be able to determine the emotional indicators using the methods outlined in the report.


Bandura, A. (1993). Perceived self-efficacy in cognitive development and functioning. Educational psychologist, 28(2), 117-148.

Jackson, C. K. (2012). Non-cognitive ability, test scores, and teacher quality: Evidence from 9th grade teachers in North Carolina (No. w18624). National Bureau of Economic Research.

Kilkenny, C., Browne, W., Cuthill, I. C., Emerson, M., & Altman, D. G. (2010). Animal research: reporting in vivo experiments: the ARRIVE guidelines. British journal of pharmacology, 160(7), 1577-1579.

Lohman, D. F., Thorndike, R. L., Hagen, E. P., Smith, P., Fernandes, C., & Strand, S. (2001). Cognitive abilities test. Windsor, England: NFER-Nelson.

Simera, I., Moher, D., Hoey, J., Schulz, K. F., & Altman, D. G. (2010). A catalogue of reporting guidelines for health research. European journal of clinical investigation, 40(1), 35-53.

Stiles-Davis, J., Janowsky, J., Engel, M., & Nass, R. (1988). Drawing ability in four young children with congenital unilateral brain lesions. Neuropsychologia, 26(3), 359-371.

Wechsler, D. (2008). Wechsler adult intelligence scale-Fourth Edition (WAIS-IV). San Antonio, TX: NCS Pearson, 22, 498.

Wertsh, J. V., & Tulviste, P. (1990). Apprenticeship in thinking: Cognitive development in social context. Science, 249(4969), 684-686.

Worden, J. W. (1996). Children and grief: When a parent dies. Guilford Publications, Inc., The Maple Press Distribution Center, I-83 Industrial Park, PO Box 15100, York, PA 17405.

April 19, 2023

Psychology Science

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