Young children's collaborative strategies when drawing on the computer with friends and acquaintances



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The processes and patterns of collaborative strategies used by children when drawing on the computer with friends and acquaintances were investigated in a case study. The participants were five-and-six-year-old children and the study took place in their home settings. The data collection methods consisted of interviews, observations, audio recordings, video recordings, drawing artifacts, and screen capture. The analysis began with the selection of collaborative episodes, followed by the application of two theoretical frameworks, those of two play theorists Garvey (1990) and Vygotsky (1978) as analytical lenses through which to interpret those episodes. The young children in this study used four levels of collaborative strategies, listed from the simplest to the most complex: 1) division of labor, 2) pretend language use, 3) coherence and elaboration of pretend frames, 4) action games. The findings revealed a striking contrast between the collaboration of friendship pairs and acquaintance pairs. The friendship pairs exhibited a total number of 32 episodes while the acquaintance pairs engaged in only three episodes. The acquaintance pairs applied only the strategy of pretend language use while the friendship pairs used three other more collaborative strategies and their use of collaborative strategies showed unique paths of progression. Furthermore, the acquaintance pairs exhibited mostly uncooperative and uncollaborative behaviors, which were manifested in three major forms: 1) unengaged behavior, 2) over-reliance on the researcher’s technical support, and 3) disagreement and critique. Informed by these findings, five major points are discussed: 1) Friendship matters; 2) Young children have the ability to collaborate; 3) Pretend play serves as a starting point for collaboration; 4) Collaborative strategies progress as the collaboration proceeds; and 5) Computers can play a supportive role in collaboration for young children.