How does video editing affect the way that children learn from media?

    • Topic: Cognitive Development

    • Location: Hall of Human Life

    Children often learn by imitating people around them. Sometimes children directly mimic the actions that they see. At other times they copy general goals rather than exact actions. Each way of imitating might be associated with different learning outcomes and each might be processed in different areas of the brain. We are exploring how the things children see in a video might change the way they imitate.

    In this study, children 18 months to 6.5 years old watch a video of a person playing with a toy. Some children see a video that highlights actions and some children see a video that highlights intentions. The children then get to play with the toy they just saw in the video. The children’s play is recorded to explore how the videos watched may have impacted their play.

    We expect that children will be impacted by how the video highlights actions or intentions and that the children will copy the one that is featured.

    This research will provide important information for researchers and teachers who are designing educational media. In the future, we hope to use neuroimaging to explore the neural bases of imitation and to test children with autism, in order to better understand how their brains respond to educational media.

    This research is conducted at Museum of Science, Boston by Laura Edwards from the Boston Children’s Hospital’s Labs in Cognitive Neuroscience.

        » Boston Children’s Hospital’s Labs in Cognitive Neuroscience

    Activities to Try in the Hall of Human Life

    A Hop, Skip, and a Jump

    Find the “How efficient is your walk?” link station in the Food environment. This link station measures the energy you burn during a short walk. Have your child try the activity and then try it yourself as well. Who burned more calories?

    Challenge your child to try burning more calories. S/he will probably try walking faster or slower, but you’re not limited to walking. Try moving across the mat differently (such as hopping, skipping, or walking backwards) when it’s your turn. Encourage your child to try again. What does s/he do differently after watching you? Talk to your child about why they tried different ways of crossing the floor and why some ways burned more calories than others.

    Activities to Try at Home

    Spoons and Forks

    Find a fork and a spoon. Give your child the spoon and ask them to use their spoon to do whatever you do with your fork. Mime eating with a fork (spearing motion) and see how they mimic your action. Does your child imitate your literal action (spearing) or your intention (i.e., scooping - using the utensil you have to bring food to your mouth).

    Find some other objects to keep the game going. For example, give you child a pencil to write with while you write with a pen. Pretend to make a mistake and cross it out. Ask your child to pretend to make a mistake as well – is the mistake crossed out or erased?

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