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Research Article  |   September 2000
The Effects of Hands-on Occupation Versus Demonstration on Children’s Recall Memory
Author Affiliations
  • Beth A. Hartman, MOT, is Occupational Therapist, First Step Autism Program, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. She was an occupational therapy student at the Medical College of Ohio, Toledo, Ohio at the time of this study
  • Barbara Kopp Miller, PhD, is Associate Professor, Medical College of Ohio, 3015 Arlington Avenue, Toledo, Ohio 436145803; bkoppmiller@mco.edu
  • David L. Nelson, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, is Professor, Medical College of Ohio, Toledo, Ohio
Article Information
Infants and Children
Research Article   |   September 2000
The Effects of Hands-on Occupation Versus Demonstration on Children’s Recall Memory
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, September/October 2000, Vol. 54, 477-483. doi:10.5014/ajot.54.5.477
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, September/October 2000, Vol. 54, 477-483. doi:10.5014/ajot.54.5.477
Abstract

Objective. Hands-on learning has been an important aspect of the profession of occupational therapy since its founding. The purpose of this study was to determine whether children engaged in hands-on learning would be able to recall more of the steps and more of the correct order of the steps of an occupation than children engaged in a demonstration teaching method.

Method. After being randomly assigned, 73 healthy third-graders (42 girls and 31 boys) either participated in making a model of a volcano or observed the making of a model of a volcano. Following task completion, both groups were asked to recall and state as many of the 41 syntactical units as possible in their proper order. The children’s responses were audiotaped and scored in a blind fashion according to predetermined criteria. Interrater reliability was excellent.

Results. A t-test revealed a significant difference between conditions in terms of free recall scores, with children in the hands-on condition having a greater recall score, t (71) = 2.63, p < .005. The effect size d equaled .62. A MannWhitney U Test revealed no significant difference between conditions in terms of remembering the steps in proper order (the lack of a significant difference may have been due to a problem of measurement).

Conclusion. The results of this study demonstrated that participants were able to recall more information when engaged in a hands-on teaching method as compared with a demonstration method. It is suggested that the learning advantages of hands-on occupation are related to the enhanced sensory/perceptual experiences and the feelings of success that are characteristic of hands-on learning, as opposed to passive forms of learning.