Child's Drawing Ability Drawing Complexity as the Essay

Excerpt from Essay :


Drawing complexity as the complexity or the level of difficulty involved in children's drawing. Drawings from younger children can be less simple with fewer features but as the age of the child progresses the complexity of the drawings increases due to the complex cognitive development.

Drawings are mirror representation of the child's development. Children's drawings have significant roles in the cognitive development of the child. Other roles include training the brain of the child to pay attention and to sustain attention, stimulating individual cells and clusters of cells in the visual cortex for line and shape, practicing and to organizing the shapes and patterns of thought and, through an increasing affinity for marks, to prepare the mind of the child for its determining behavior

Understanding children's cognitive development has implications for many fields, and in particular for education. There exists many possible approaches to the study of cognitive development, assessing a child's drawings can provide a window into their representational world. An example is the ability of a child to depict spatial elements from their environment through an understanding of where an object is located in comparison to others. This is an important aspect of child development as well as an important aspect of geography, geometry, and graphic design. (Missaghi et al. 1991)

There are two types of drawing that children can have, this include; figurative drawing or representational and expressive drawing. Figurative drawing conveys information about figurative aspects of objects in a more or less realistic way. This depends majorly on the age of the child. Expressive drawing has to do with information on mood or the emotions. Any improvement on expressive drawing can be related to the use of content expression and abstract expression

Factors that affects a child's drawing ability

Among factors that affect children's drawing ability include:

1. Level of support and the nature of the design task

2. Child's level of understanding of the drawing.

3. The child's previous experience in drawing


1. To determine if drawing complexity increases with increase in age of the child

2. To determine the relationship between gender and children's drawing


1. Drawing complexity increases with increase in age of the child

2. There is no relationship between gender and children's drawing



A total of 120 children (57 boys and 63 girls) aged between 4 -- 14-years children's drawings were selected for analysis. The selection was done with the consent of the parents. Each of the three age groups comprised a similar number of boys and girls (35 4-6-year-olds, 42 7-11-year-olds, and 37-12-14-year-olds. Before the study began children were given some incentives in form of confectionery, this was done with the sole intention of winning their attention.


The children were tested individually in a quiet room. Each child was exposed to two sets of still pictures that were presented on a computer screen and was asked to label each picture. The still pictures were 20 in number. When the participant was done with the first drawings, he or she was given a pencil and a piece of white, standard size paper. The child was given five minutes to draw a picture following the instructions: After each drawing session, the participant was asked to recall the pictures s/he had seen previously.


The drawings were coded by three trained experimenters. The degree of agreement amont the raters (Interrupter reliability) was determined to be 81%. The drawings from the children were analyzed individually. A total of 120 drawings were analyzed (see table 2 for details -- one for each age group, for each type of drawing). Sex and age groups were analyzed separately

SD = 1.21). The two older age groups did not differ significantly in their drawing of essential details. As hypothesized, there is a significantly relationship between drawing complex and the age of the children. Separate chi square tests on the dichotomous variables by sex and age were computed. For the family drawings, results indicated significant sex differences for clothing (?2[1, n = 109] = 6.31, p = .012), the use of stereotyping (?2[1, n = 109] = 13.16, p = .001) and proportionality (?2 [1, n = 109] = 4.81, p = .028 Girls include clothing and stereotyped features in their drawings than boys

Description of expressive techniques

Table 1

Type of expressive technique



Drawings show facial expressions like happy and smiling face. Personification of non-human topics


Drawing featuring abstract cues

Both (Literal and metaphorical)

The expressive drawing combines both facial expressions and the content cues

Table 2

Number of children in different age groups age

4-6 years

7-11 years

12-14 years

Plain drawing




With clothes




Human drawings




Other features




Age differences with various drawings 1


Development of each of the parameters in a child like handwriting and circle drawing tasks are significantly related to the age of the child. Such parameters like speed, automation and pressure increases with age, therefore there exist a variability with the drawings and the age.

Understanding children's representational development is an essential component for constructing a more complete picture of cognitive development. The representation of knowledge in long-term memory has been clearly seen as an important explanatory component of memory performance and cognitive development (DeLoache, 1987). One important issue that all theories of cognitive development must address is the age differences in how children represent experience.

In general, the results of this study support the hypothesis that with age children's ability to create more complex drawings increases and, in particular, the difference in representational complexity is linked, partially, to an increased working memory capacity as measured by an independent memory recall task (Bensur et al., 1997). The still pictures drawings showed that, consistent with our hypothesis that older children included significantly more essential and inessential details than younger children in their drawings (Bensur et al.,

1997; Golomb, 2004); they were more likely to include additional features and were less likely than younger children to use stick figures.

The current findings of this study also showed significant sex differences among the drawings. Girls were more likely than boys to include additional features in their drawings like add clothes, add stereotyped details for example fingernails and hairstyles to their figures, and draw proportionate human figures. These findings can related to the fact that, on average, girls draw significantly more inessential details than boys, (Callaghan, 2000) Previous studies shows that girls tend to depict more details in their drawings. Together, these results suggest that the girls' drawings may represent their experiences with family relationships. In general, girls tend to value relationships more than boys and they tend to pay more attention to what other same-sex friends wear (Hanline et al., 2007). In general, the depictions may not necessarily reflect a different stage of intellectual development. In addition, there were no age related differences in the number of children who used stereotyped items in their drawing, suggesting that girls may develop a prototype for what it means to be female. This full-scale or the prototype remains rather invariant over time. It may reflect the attempt of females to draw things as they are known rather than as they are actually perceived, also it may be a means for differentiating females from males.

The type of drawings generally made by the different genders is a subject of debate (Troseth et al. 1998) found differences between drawings made by boys and girls aged 5 to 6 years. Marked contrasts were noted in the use of motifs and colors. Girls are fond of drawing people, flowers, butterflies, the sun, houses and buildings, and trees using warm colors more frequently than boys. In contrast, boys like drawing mobile objects such as vehicles, trains, aircrafts and rockets, using cold colors. Girls generally used more colors per drawing as compared to boys.


In summary children should be given opportunities in all areas to make them know and understand on their own through design or invent. Designedly drawings should become part of the child's drawing.

A gender difference in children's cognitive abilities is an area that needs further research. Whereas some studies have found such differences, others have failed to isolate them. There is no question that additional analyses of the potential gender differences in cognitive development using a large sample with an ample age range are needed and may help to clarify the interaction between gender and age in relation to cognition. This study analyzes gender differences in a sizeable sample of children using the attention, perceptual, language, memory (coding),

The results of this research supports the assumption that gender differences during cognitive development are minimal, appear in only a small number of tests, and account for only a low percentage of the score variance. It is likely, therefore, that certain cultural factors may be responsible for at least some of the gender differences. One limitation of the current study is that the domains used as…

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