Sensor-enabled Geometric Blocks for Research in Early-childhood Education

Principal Investigator: 
Project Overview
Background & Purpose: 

This pathway project aims to develop and evaluate a novel procedural and methodological approach for assessing cognitive and fine-motor skills in children through tangible geometric games (TaG-Games). TaG-Games, employing a set of sensor-enabled geometric blocks and an interactive graphical user interface, will function as a novel and engaging toy for children that also serves as an automated, objective, and multimodal assessment and educational tool for researchers, clinicians, educators, and parents.

Setting: 

Case Western Reserve University will facilitate the overall project development process and administration. The primary location for the technical development will be the Distributed Intelligence and Robotics Laboratory (DIRL) in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and the proposed human subject studies on children will be conducted in a child observation room in the Department of Psychology.

Research Design: 

The project uses a comparative research design and will generate evidence that is associative/correlational [quasi-experimental]. Original data will be collected on young adults [Age: 18-21 (N=60|M=30, F=30)] for initial evaluation and preschool-aged children [Age: 4-6 (N = 40|M=20, F=20)] for reliability and validity studies using assessments of learning, observation [videography], and survey research [self-completion questionnaire and focus groups]. Instruments or measures include TaG-Games, Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI), and Beery’s Test of Visual Motor Integration (VMI).

Correlational studies among the three tests will be conducted. We will further investigate additional behavioral data available from TaG-Games to determine if individual differences in intellectual and physical development can be identifiable. In addition, the relationship between the performance data from TaG-Games and a proposed computational measure of game complexity will be investigated.

Findings: 

A testable prototype of sensor-enabled blocks and an interactive GUI have been developed for evaluating the technical feasibility of the concept. Accuracy and reliability of automated data collection by embedded sensors has been tested in a laboratory setting. In addition, a preliminary correlational study found a strong correlation between the proposed computational measure of play complexity and user performance when tested on university students.

Publications & Presentations: 

K. Lee, D. Jeong, B. Floyd, R. Cooper and E. Short, "Games for Automated Assessments of Cognitive and Fine-Motor Skills: Design and Preliminary Evaluation," (Abstract), 5th Annual International Conference on Psychology, 30-31 May & 1-2 June, 2011

D. Jeong, E. Kerci and K. Lee, "TaG-Games: Tangible Geometric Games for Assessing Cognitive Problem-Solving Skills and Fine Motor Proficiency," IEEE International Conference on Multisensor Fusion and Integration, Salt Lake City, Utah, September 5-7, 2010, pp. 32-37
URL: http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/freeabs_all.jsp?arnumber=5604479

D. Jeong, E. Kerci and K. Lee, "Sensor-Integrated Geometric Blocks: Towards Interactive Play-Based Assessment of Young Children," International Workshop on Interactive Systems in Healthcare (CHI-WISH 2010), Atlanta, GA, April 10-11, 2010
URL: http://www.case.edu/mae/robotics/pdf/DJeongWISH2010.pdf

Other Products: 

This project will produce sensor-enabled geometric blocks and associated software.