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Experience of computer use for learning numbers in kindergarten

Marco Lazzari, Elisa Rinaldin Department of Human Sciences University of Bergamo

St. Augustine Square, 2 24129 Bergamo marco.lazzari @
He has experience of using IT tools in kindergarten. A group of children last ye
ar of kindergarten used the personal computer and a graphical environment for le
arning numbers, children were tested for verification of learning, which gave be
tter results than those given to a control group that learned the numbers in par
allel with traditional instruments. We discuss the effects of experience on chil
dren in terms of creativity and initiative, response to failures, autonomy, coop
erative work. The experience presented is the first attempt at developing a more
extensive research to be held in the coming months. 1. Introduction The law n.5
3 of 28 March 2003 sets policy reform the Italian school system, with effects on
both the structure and operating rules. In particular, Article 1 defines the ge
neral rules for kindergarten, without which there is an explicit reference to in
formation for which you must wait to Article 2 of Ministerial Decree n.61, gener
alizing about national literacy. The element of generalization is taken up by th
e circular of 29 March 2004, implementation of Decree 59 which states that [i] n
the specific objectives for learning are elements of novelty, for generalized,
[...] literacy technology and computers. This attempt to bring the child a first
literacy is embodied in the goals for the chapter "Exploitation and production
of messages, which provide that children are able to recognize texts of children
's literature as seen through the media, such as TVs and computers; other
Preprint version: Marco Lazzari, Elisa Rinaldin, "An 'experience' s computer to
use the 'learning of the numbers of school children'," Proceedings Didamatica 06
, Cagliari, 2006. © Marco Lazzari, Elisa Rinaldin, 2006.
goal is the ability to experiment with new forms of artistic expression through
tools including multimedia such as CD-ROMs and computer products for individual
or group. Computer literacy is proposed in the spirit of the Reformation, in vie
w of the unit of education: For a single person can not think of offering to gro
w, a partial and separate culture [...] The educational activities and teaching
at service person can then imagine the optics of marked decomposition and of for
eignness. [Bertagna, 2003] It follows that the computer was recognized by the gu
idelines of the kindergarten in '91 as an important source of "cultural stimulat
ion" and "cognitive major opportunities" [DM June 3, 1991] should become part of
the educational activities in an interdisciplinary and cross, thinking of a sch
ool ologrammatica [Morin, 2000], which rejects the traditional separation betwee
n theory and practice, between auditorium and laboratorium [Bertagna, 2003]. The
computer is thus regarded not as a discipline's sake, but rather as a "differen
t operational space and mental [Bertagna, 2004] within which to address other di
sciplines. 2. Experience Wanting to make a reflection on the use of IT in kinder
garten and, more generally, trying to produce data useful for experimental study
of the cognitive processes of children of kindergarten, it was thought to 'surv
ey that would allow to observe the behavior of children struggling with the comp
uter and compare the results obtained in a series of tests administered to two g
roups of children on two different media: paper and electronic format. Applicati
on area was chosen as the logic-mathematics, for which the third year of school
the child should be achieved to know and recognize the numbers from 0 to 10. Chi
ldren involved in the survey were "great", or five years, attending the Nursery
School "Giovanni XXIII" Botta di Sotto il Monte (BG). Project for the computer,
active in school for some years, large, as well as pimps for one hour a week pla
y computer games, accompanied by an expert. The large group was composed of seve
nteen children, who were divided into two groups, experimental and control, with
a randomized controlled [Slavin,€2003], according to a criterion that composing
two random groups, except that the composition of random testing was not so par
ticular as to nullify the experiment .1 In preparation experience the teacher ha
s created eleven operations sheets, creating drawings on white sheets then repro
duced by photocopying for the group of children who would work on paper. A serie
s of eleven cards has been left unchanged (white and black contours), while the
children worked on their first copies, those designs and shading. Later, black a
nd white cards and a set of those colors were digitized, enhanced graphics and p
roposals to guide children to experiment with the environment
Indeed, in the afternoon when the draw for the groups should have realized the i
nfluence he had half the class and only eight children were present, these eight
were the experimental group and the others back in the days after, formed the g
roup control, also composed of eight members, because a child has been absent th
roughout the period in which the experiment is developed. 2
graphic Tux Paint, a second graphics program developed by a group of volunteers
specially to enable children to draw with a personal computer. Regarding the cov
er, a task the children were coloring with graphical tools and personalized with
your name, while the remaining ten cards were made on the pages already colored
, also be personalized with the name. With each card was proposed a year and eac
h was associated with a score on a scale common to all adapters. In addition to
benchmarking the performance of two groups on the basis of marks obtained in var
ious forms, was carried out a careful and continuous observation of children dur
ing and after all the experience in order to highlight the effects in terms of c
reativity and initiative, reaction failures, autonomy, commitment to work cooper
atively. Below are some of the cards. 3. Example of the first tab (Fig. 1), whic
h proved to be the simplest, the kids had to count how many fish, seagulls and c
louds are present at the top of the page and color wheels as there are so many e
lements. To do so, children in the experimental group had provided the fill tool
Tux, for use with your favorite color (in this as in all subsequent cards, chil
dren in the control group performed the same delivery working with pastels) . In
the second tab (Fig. 2, version resolved) the children were to join the first l
ine of the second nuts, then the second with the third, connecting nuts alike. T
ux Paint using brush as an instrument, are themselves creating the lines, being
more or less able to drive the mouse with precision. The objective to be achieve
d in this card is able to count to 4 and not expressly recognize digits. The thi
rd card was testing the ability to run a route in a maze, connecting two images
representing the same number. There were errors in performing the path; work dif
fered somewhat for the accuracy of execution, as had happened in the second tab.
To trace the path the children were free to choose the preferred technique, the
n someone has chosen the rainbow, some other circles. Strangely, one of the chil
dren usually more messy "invented" a strategy, then followed by other children,
tracing the route with the instrument rainbow, used repeatedly over short stretc
hes, thus restoring a path very orderly. Faced with a challenging and demanding
task, the child has not simply taken note of what exists, but the situation has
restructured itself, generating new knowledge for themselves and the group [Piag
et, 1979]. The fourth and fifth card requires children the ability to associate
equipotent sets, cardinality of up to ten, how the children used the brush tools
or lines, for the latter, the child was to determine the starting point, then d
rag the mouse and then let go after reaching the set target.
Figure 1 - The first tab
2 - The second card (solved) 4
The sixth tab (Fig 3, answer) the child had to count the fruits on every tree in
the rectangle and draw a corresponding number of dots equal to the fruits count
ed, and the delivery was to be executed with the brush tool, click once for each
dot to be inserted . The goal is to be able to count and store, and then create
as many elements as those counted.€Not everyone is able to incorporate the poin
ts inside the rectangle, and half the group made errors in counting.
3 - The sixth tab (resolved)
The seventh card was again a path to follow to connect a set of objects to its n
umerical representation (Fig. 4, resolved). This is where the rainbow had spread
strategy, mentioned the card number three, a strategy that has allowed the chil
dren to achieve significant results in terms of accuracy, the only one who has n
ot applied it was the inventor, in this case has chosen to use the paintbrush to
ol. Eighth card asking again for children to color a number of circles equal to
the cardinality of a set of elements that were proposed to them in a drawing acc
ompanied by the corresponding figure. Here too the goal is to be able to count,
store and score as many items as numbered. From this tab has spread among the ch
ildren using the Cancel button, but not from a sense of teacher, as from their p
ersonal reflections and collaborations. The board has the ninth digit from one t
o five accompanied by a drawing of the fingers of one hand representing the same
number, the task of the children was to fill a number of circles equal to the a
mount read (a tenth card, similarly presented the figures from six to ten).
4 - The seventh card (resolved)
4. Summary of quantitative observations As mentioned above, the performance of t
he children were evaluated quantitatively by means of scores assigned to each ca
rd and the results of experimental and control groups were then compared. Summar
izing the results (presented in detail in [Rinaldin, 2005]) shows that in two ca
ses the two groups reached the same results (including the case of the first car
d, definitely the most affordable, in which all children have completed delivery
), two of the control group exceeded, albeit slightly, the experimental (in perc
ent, a difference of 4.1% and 8 .5%), while in all other cases, children in the
experimental group have scored higher (with differences up to 57.7%). Summing up
in a group indicator values collected, 3 that the group exposed to computer wor
k achieves better results than the group who worked on the paper: whereas all co
ntrol gets an average of the results of 88/100 , all experimental reaches an ave
rage of 96/100, with a greater increase to 0.57 times the standard deviation of
all control. Referring to the literature, where an increase greater than 0.2 is
considered statistically significant [Cohen, 1977] and higher to 0.25 educationa
lly significant [Slavin, 1990], the conclusion traibile the first experiences of
this research is in keeping with the positivity of the use of multimedia tools
as facilitators of learning numbers.
Processing does not take into account the outcome of the first tab "warm up".
5. Remarks "Elisa, do not bring us more cards of computers in the classroom?" Ch
ildren who worked on the computer all proved very pleased to have tested an alte
rnative way to run tabs. Everyone seemed very involved and at the end of the exp
erience have shown a slight regret at the "end of work", stating that they would
like to continue with additional cards. Seeing the different ways in which they
loved dealing, the question was raised whether the most accurate were already f
amiliar with the computer, with a Play Station or similar devices. A small surve
y among children has indeed shown a significant correlation between the availabi
lity of family systems and precision demonstrated in school and confirmed that t
hose who have developed a computer mouse to control more precisely, to the benef
it of eye-hand skills . In particular, struck the approach of the only child of
the experimental group that does not have any tool at home and, when they had to
cancel in order to remedy an error, his hand instinctively closer to the monito
r, as if to grasp the 'object, instead of directing the cursor. Besides this, ot
her positive effects have been observed that the computer has had on children in
relation to creativity and initiative, the response success / failure, the recr
eational aspect, autonomy, writing. As for creativity, several children have bee
n particularly inventive: without the teacher suggested, changing the thickness
of the lines, chose that alternative forms of coverage and often changed the col
ors,€thus demonstrating creativity and initiative, since they were the promoters
of their actions. So if one part of the immediacy of the images facilitates cog
nitive processing concept [Manara, 2004] and the immediacy of the intervention w
ith the tool, the ability to correct errors and groped alternatives without comp
romise work together to stimulate children in the learning process. Children als
o tended to project their ideas on the companions, advising them of the true mas
ters in a kind of cooperative learning promoted by the children themselves, 4 ar
e able to develop forms of constructive interaction with the use of social skill
s [Cardoso and Comoglio, 1996 ] and in some cases their collaboration creates an
area on which production can sometimes be a conflict (not so! To cancel you hav
e to go there [pointing to the symbol "cancel"]), which is necessarily mediated
by the teacher. This is observed with very small subjects: Pontecorvo [1999] abo
ut collaborative learning refers to children five years (and those of peers in o
ur experiment) that discuss the plot and set the course of a fairy tale. A vast
literature [Slavin, 1989, 1996; Hynn, 2005] documents the positive influence of
cooperative learning on motivation and learning of pupils in particular was obse
rved an increase in the pleasure of going to school or to study certain subjects
if 'teacher education strategy takes as cooperative learning, students also hav
e greater confidence in
When we talk about cooperative learning in relation to children experiment, we r
efer to the collaborative behavior exhibited in relation to the use of tools (se
lection and use of graphical tools, error correction), these collaborations have
also altered the quantitative results of trial compared to the understanding of
numbers: the children can not understand at a glance whether the company has co
unted correctly, but only if you are using good graphical tool, whereas in simil
ar experiments with primary school children had to pay attention to phenomena of
copying [Lamarca, 2005, Lazzari et al., 2005]. 7
their ability to learn different content. It has been questioned whether the coo
perative learning has positive effects because it increases motivation or becaus
e it leads to greater social cohesion, to foster collective processing. Slavin s
eeks to integrate these perspectives by claiming that the group promotes a motiv
ation to learn which supports and helps each member of the group to learn, the m
otivation also makes students perform reciprocal tutoring roles, sharing specifi
c cognitive processing, all in a remarkable social cohesion of the group. Slavin
therefore considers motivation as the fundamental mechanism to produce social o
utcomes, cognitive and school. The qualitative and quantitative results of our e
xperiment seem to confirm this hypothesis. Compared to the reaction success-fail
ure, children committed to the computer showed the error of living in a less anx
ious than when working on paper, perhaps because the computer could make changes
without the work is dirty or messy. The reworking of anxiety before the error i
s an important milestone for the child, one of the children, for example, until
a few months before the experiment reacted to the minimum error with a crying, t
earing up his paper and desiring to all costs thrown into the trash. The teacher
took almost three years to overcome this problem and comes from his thinking, a
fter seeing it work in the computer laboratory, perhaps using a computer before
it could help to treat the error as part of the process, but inevitable remediab
le. Despite criticism at times moved by his comrades, no one has lived his mista
ke, more or less serious, so dramatic, or on the advice of friends or autonomous
choice children often serenely self-correcting, using the cancel button. With r
egard to the playful aspect of the workshop, the children have experienced the e
xperiment as a game, accompanying activities with witty comments and laughter, f
un and enthusiasm in choices of tools and colors and greet with satisfaction the
success of exercises. This confirms the wish of the Reformation, that the adopt
ion of IT tools can have significant psychological impact on children, as the pl
ayful dimension that can result can make exciting activities usually considered
boring [Bertagna, 2003].€As it emerged across the board in previous comments, wh
at has characterized the work of children is their autonomy. The teacher, in fac
t, took very little, initially presented Tux the environment and its various fun
ctions, indicated buttons, forms and contours, then the children have ventured v
ery independent, so that on several occasions the teacher she felt an observer o
utside, which enabled it to devote more attention to observing the behavior of c
hildren and their verbal and visual. A mathematical graph-edge experiment, child
ren were also given the opportunity to practice writing your name on the cover (
card 0) and the beginning of each card, in fact, I wrote each child their name,
5 Looking for letters on the keyboard. With few exceptions, everyone has his nam
e spelled correctly, some abbreviations. One of the children, particularly origi
nal in many of its forms, wrote the name with both hands, using it both the righ
t and left hand to press the keys, rather than singular behavior for his age.
For privacy, in the schedule listed below the names of the children were removed
6. Conclusions The experiments presented in this speech, as carried on a small s
ample (but not unlike others in the literature: see for example the already ment
ioned [Hynn, 2005]), has been successful on several levels, both quantitatively
assessed both qualitatively. In summary: • Educational Level: cards addressed wi
th the help of computers have been performed with fewer errors. • Level staff: c
hildren solve cards so little stereotypical and very creative, choosing each tim
e different techniques. • Level of self: the children correct their mistakes wit
hout feelings of frustration or acts of uncontrolled rage or anxiety. • Emotiona
l Level: children while working at computers are involved, they feel very happy
for what they do, it is as if pulled in a flow that makes them uninterested in e
motional self [Goleman, 2003]. • Relational level: the children were cooperative
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