Gerard Klein

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Geometric form-copying tests are widely used in the diagnosis of children with perceptual difficulties, based on the assumption that incorrect reproductions result from perceptual deficits. The research presented in this thesis, undertaken to investigate children's copying errors, not only seriously questions this assumption but also suggests an alternative explanation for the production of these errors.;Using designs from the Bender Visual-Motor Gestalt Test, Benton Revised Visual Retention Test, and McCarthy Scale of Children's Ability, it was found that both normal kindergarten and learning disabled children did not consistently produce the same categories of error, nor did they incorrectly reproduce designs in the same way across repeated testings. Moreover, kindergarten children did not regard their own incorrect drawings as equivalents of the stimulus figure upon subsequent comparison. These results suggest that the errors were not tied to intrinsic properties of designs; consequently, it was unlikely that these errors stemmed from children's inherent perceptual deficits.;Alternatively, the experimental data suggest that copying errors may result from children's momentary lapses in attention, possibly due to their distractibility. Focussing the attention of both kindergarten and learning disabled children on the designs through reinforcement significantly reduced the number of errors, whereas distracting the children's attention by utilizing response sheets containing extraneous cues markedly increased the number of errors. It was also possible to focus attention of the kindergarten children by requesting that they verbally describe each design prior to copying it. This again significantly reduced error reproduction regardless of the accuracy of such descriptions. Furthermore, kindergarten children with high teacher ratings of distractibility tended to produce the greatest number of errors.;The traditional use of copying and similar tests to diagnose and prescribe remediation in perceptual areas is consistently called into question. Instead, it is suggested tht such tests may be more efficacious in the diagnosis of attention problems.



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