Project ViWa

Visual Perception

Visual perception in children is known to serve as an early indicator of learning and achievement disorders. The project ViWa focuses on the development of visual perception and its relationship to math precursor skills and social-emotional competencies in children aged four to ten years.

Visual perception serves as a precursor skill of higher-order cognitive processes and early indicator of learning and developmental disorders (Büttner, Dacheneder, Schneider & Weyer, 2008). Subject to the project, visual perceptual skills of children aged between four and ten years will be assessed. Moreover, the project will focus on correlations of visual perception with 1) precursor skills to math competence, and (2) social-emotional competencies. In the context of a norming study and reissue of the psychological testing procedure FEW-2 (Frostig’s developmental test of visual perception), ViWa is administered to children aged between four and ten years.

(1) Early mathematical competencies and visual perceptual skills
Current theories on cognitive development postulate knowledge acquisition to be grounded in domain-specific core competencies. For instance, an understanding of quantity relationships is assumed to be fundamental to the acquisition of arithmetic skills. This understanding of quantity relationships is assessed in standardised tests by numerical comparisons of point sets: Two point sets are shown to a child who is asked to estimate which point set contains the higher number of points. Such tests have revealed that the ability to differentiate is influenced by visual characteristics of stimuli. We can moreover assume that visual-spatial processing activities are involved in the work on arithmetic tasks. The project focuses on the question whether the correlation of an understanding of quantity relationships on the one hand and arithmetic skills on the other hand is mediated via the children’s visual perceptual skills.

(2) Eye–hand coordination and social-emotional competence
In children, fine motor skills and particularly their eye-hand coordination are closely linked to cognitive development. Subject to the project, correlations between fine motor skill development and social-emotional development will be further investigated. The project also queries in how far different fine motor tasks are linked to social-emotional skills.