Variations in amount of indoor play space as associated with certain physical aggressive contacts of young children in group settings

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Thelma Elaine Arnote (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Mary Elizabeth Keister

Abstract: The purposes of this study were twofold: (1) to inquire into the origin and significance of historically recommended amounts of indoor space needed for young children in group settings; and (2) to conduct an experiment which would search for the effects of variations in amounts of indoor space on the frequency of physical aggressions among young children in group settings. For this experimental study a null hypothesis was proposed: There will be no differences in the incidence of anti-social physical aggressive contacts in varying amounts of space. The experimental study was conducted in two United Day Care centers in Greensboro, North Carolina. Thirty Negro children from the younger groups in each center, ranging in age from 2 years 5 months to 4 years 11 months were the subjects of a total of one hundred forty-four 5-minute units of observations. In each center, for a period of two weeks, three days per week, the amount of floor space for a randomly selected group of seven children was controlled by the use of movable wooden lockers. "Rooms" of specified area (50 square feet, 20 square feet, and 35 square feet per child) were arranged twice each morning of the experiment--before the children arrived for free play, and in the interval when children toileted before mid-morning snack and a grouptime activity. Such "room" arrangement was achieved through the use of portable wooden lockers used for children's personal belongings. Two observers, using a specially designed measures card, tallied physical aggressions as they saw them occurring during the observational periods designated as "Free Play" and "Grouptime." The design was a randomized complete blocks design. There were four blocks--two weeks in each of two day care centers. Each block contained three days which were assigned to ordered pairs of three possible space conditions. An analysis of variance was used to search for a possible relationship between variations in amount of play space and the frequency of anti-social physical aggression. In the review of literature the investigator found no systematic research in which amount of indoor space was used as a variable. Two studies (Jersild and Markey, 1935; Murphy, 1937) after data were analyzed, acknowledged a possible relationship of space to anti-social aggression. The literature did point, however, to the fact that 35 square feet per child (excluding space for toilets, kitchen, storage, etc.) was most often recommended or required as a minimum space allowance in programs for young children. Apart from "considered judgment" of experts and practitioners, the most convincing and systematic argument for 35 square feet per child was the need to meet public health standards for the proper spacing of children's rest mats and/or sleep cots in day care centers. The analysis of data in the present study revealed evidence of an increase in aggressive acts as space for free play was reduced from 50 to 35 to 20 square feet per child. The average change was about one aggressive act for each reduction of 15 square feet, the actual estimate being .85 + .38. In the grouptime periods no effects of space conditions were detected. The effects of varying the design and of increasing the size of the experiment ware calculated. It was pointed out that fair precision would be achieved if a future design required three 3-day weeks at each of six day care centers, noting, however, that the present investigation achieved a coefficient of variation of 44% with 4 days at each of the 3 space conditions.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1969
physical aggression in children, play space, group behavior in children
Aggressiveness in children
Spatial behavior
Crowding stress in children

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