Date of Award

Spring 5-24-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

MS Experimental Psychology




Amy Joh, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Marianne Lloyd, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Fanli Jia, Ph.D.


spatial development, natural environment, working together


Spatial skills develop continuously throughout life. One way for young children to improve spatial skills is by working together with a more knowledgeable person such as a parent. When parents use spatial language during play, they bring attention to the spatial information on and around the target object, which subsequently promotes spatial skills in children (Cartmill et al., 2010; Pruden et al., 2011; Pruden & Levine, 2017). In the past, most research on the development of spatial skills was conducted in highly structured laboratory settings. While laboratory studies are useful because they allow researchers to control circumstances that can introduce noise into data, laboratory studies may not accurately capture the way children play and interact with others in a natural environment. Real life is ‘noisy:’ It is unstructured and variable, and it operates under a different set of constraints than the laboratory environment. Therefore, this study sought to explore how parents and children interact to solve spatial tasks together in a more natural environment. Previously collected videos from an online digital library were coded to explore the different ways parents and children solve spatial problems together in a more naturalistic, less controlled setting. A secondary goal of the study was to create a coding manual that would capture language and adult-child interactions as they work together through spatial tasks in the more natural environment.