Measuring grade-school children’s ability to represent the euclidean horizontal coordinate

Richard de Lisi, Ann V. McGillicuddy-De Lisi, Elizabeth Mowrer-Popiel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Seventy-five grade-school children were administered three tasks that measured their ability to represent the Euclidean horizontal coordinate: a traditional water-level test (WLT) that used a square-shaped vessel, a WLT that used a spherical vessel, and a task that used a crossbar apparatus. The latter two tasks differed from the traditional task in terms of the degree to which the apparatus presented a frame of reference that conflicted with environmental Euclidean coordinates. Performance was analyzed according to Piaget and Inhelder's (1956) stage-scoring system; that is, the testing procedures (a) allowed children to inspect the apparatus when it was rotated to discrete orientations; (b) corrected initial errors; and (c) included 0°, 30°, 60°, and 90° trials. Age-related stages were identified on each task. Levels of performance on one task were significantly correlated with levels on each of the other two tasks. Performance was less accurate on the traditional WLT than on either of the other two measures. These results provide evidence of the validity of the alternative tasks to measure children's horizontality representation. The findings suggest that horizontality assessment procedures should include orthogonal and oblique rotations and contain an inspection phase. Use of apparatuses with conflicting frames of reference renders tasks more difficult but is not necessary to observe age-related developmental progress during the grade-school years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-240
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Genetic Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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