To investigate children's ability to translate between the environment and an abstract representation, fourth graders were asked to indicate the location of colored flags by placing similarly colored stickers on a map. In the explaining condition, students wrote down what clues they had used; in the baseline condition, they placed stickers without explanation. The explaining students significantly outperformed the baseline students, especially with respect to egregious errors indicative of failure to understand basic representational correspondence. The hypothesized interpretation is that children who generated explanations were more likely to notice and then correct discrepancies between their answers in progress and the referent space and that they did so by activating existing spatial and symbolic competencies.
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