Young children's memory for spatial locations in organized and unorganized rooms

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Children's memory for spatial locations in a room-sized space designed to look like a grocery store was examined in two studies. In Study 1, 48 3- and 4-year-olds completed a problem involving memory for spatial locations and an incidental recall task in two room arrangements varying in logical organization. In the clustered arrangement items were categorized logically in space. In the nonclustered arrangement the same items were randomly arranged. Memory for spatial locations was higher under the clustered than the nonclustered arrangement although organization had no effect on recall. In Study 2, 74 children in kindergarten and first and second grades were assessed for knowledge of classification, spatial operations, and field dependence/independence along with memory for the locations of items in a logically organized room arrangement. Memory for the general area of the room in which objects belonged was expected to be related to knowledge of classification, while memory for more specific location was expected to be related to knowledge of spatial operations and field independence. Surprisingly, most children performed extremely well on memory for general location, leading to the rejection of the first hypothesis. However, consistent with the second hypothesis, results of a multiple regression showed that memory for specific spatial location was related to spatial operational knowledge, higher performance on the Children's Embedded Figures Test, and to the strategy children used in completing the reconstruction. Children were also asked to verbally recall the contents of the space. Performance on the incidental recall task was related to age and accuracy on the spatial reconstruction. Results are discussed in terms of Piagetian theory and current research on children's environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-96
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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