Date of Award

8-1-2018

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Fehr, Karla

Abstract

Play is a universal activity among children that can be indicative of a child’s developmental level. Additionally, play provides an avenue for children to practice certain skills and can be a causal agent in developmental change. Pretend play is especially important given the underlying cognitive and affective processes that are involved in pretense. Play is also strongly linked with creativity and psychosocial adjustment. Children with better play skills also demonstrate higher levels of creativity, emotion knowledge, social adjustment, and problem-solving abilities. Research suggests that culture and language also play an important role in child play development. Furthermore, parent play beliefs can impact how children develop play skills. Understanding differences in play development and related factors can inform interventions to improve play skills in this population. Additionally, research indicates a relationship between language and play and creativity. Learning more than one language may be related to children’s play skills and creative capacities. Thus, one aim was to investigate differences in play, creativity, and psychosocial adjustment between children in general education classrooms and children in an immersive bilingual education program (TWI program). A total of 117 child participants ages 5-10 years in kindergarten through 5th grade were recruited for this study. Participants completed tasks related to play and creativity and their parents completed questionnaires regarding parent play beliefs and child psychosocial adjustment. Results regarding play, creativity, and psychosocial adjustment indicated a strong relationship between play and creativity, consistent with prior research; however, no significant relationship was found between play and psychosocial adjustment. The TWI group demonstrated more imagination in their play and obtained higher scores on divergent thinking and fluency, which are measures of creativity, compared to those in the general education group. In the overall sample, parent play beliefs were not significantly related to pretend play skills. Overall, the results from the current study indicate that learning a second language in an immersive bilingual setting, play, and creativity are positively related to one another. These findings can inform future interventions. For example, incorporating play into language learning interventions may further enhance or improve language acquisition. Further exploration of the relationships between each of these variables is needed. Additionally, research regarding play, creativity, and parent beliefs in diverse populations is still necessary to understand the underlying cognitive processes that may be shared among these factors.

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