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Researching Children’s Play, Language, and Creativity Using Mixed Methods

By: & Published: 2018 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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Contemporary Western thinking on play acknowledges the benefits it has on children’s social, cognitive, physical, and emotional development. Empirical studies provide support for the value of play in enhancing and helping children improve language and creative thinking skills. Many of these studies inform educational policy for young children’s learning experiences. This case study reports on a mixed-methods research program that explores the connection between young children’s social play, language, and creativity. The first project was a pilot study that used a quasi-experimental design to examine the effect of gender on children’s play, language, and creativity using a variety of different approaches and tasks. As the research program progressed, the types of approaches and tasks also evolved. The approaches in these mixed-methods studies complement one another. Participant observation and fieldwork relationships helped the researchers connect personally with the children to explore their creative and language skills through the medium of play and task performance. The benefits of a mixed-methods approach emerge in its unique strength that includes gathering material using multiple techniques and from multiple sources. In this methods case, we present the thinking behind our decisions about task selection, standardized measures and scales, toy props, raw material analysis, and issues related to researching children.

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