Copying A Square

PROCEDURE. Place before the child a cardboard on which is drawn in heavy

black lines a square about 11/4 inches on a side. Give the child a

pencil and say: "_You see that_ (pointing to the square). _I want you to

make one just like it. Make it right here_ (showing where it is to be

drawn). _Go ahead. I know you can do it nicely._"

Avoid such an expression as, "_I want you to draw a figure like that._"
The child may not know the meaning of either _draw_ or _figure_. Also,

in pointing to the model, take care not to run the finger around the

four sides.

Children sometimes have a deep-seated aversion to drawing on request and

a bit of tactful urging may be necessary. Experience and tact will

enable the experimenter in all but the rarest cases to come out

victorious in these little battles with balky wills. Give three trials,

saying each time: "_Make it exactly like this_," pointing to model.

Make sure that the child is in an easy position and that the paper used

is held so it cannot slip.

SCORING. The test is passed if at least _one drawing out of the three_

is as good as those marked + on the score card. Young subjects usually

reduce figures in drawing from copy, but size is wholly disregarded in

scoring. It is of more importance that the right angles be fairly well

preserved than that the lines should be straight or the corners entirely

closed. The scoring of this test should be rather liberal.

REMARKS. After the three copies have been made say: "_Which one do you

like best?_" In this way we get an idea of the subject's power of

auto-criticism, a trait in which the mentally retarded are nearly always

behind normal children of their own age. Normal children, when young,

reveal the same weakness to a certain extent. It is especially

significant when the subject shows complete satisfaction with a very

poor performance.

Observe whether the child makes each part with careful effort, looking

at the model from time to time, or whether the strokes are made in a

haphazard way with only an initial glance at the original. The latter

procedure is quite common with young or retarded subjects. Curiously

enough, the first trial is more successful than either of the others,

due perhaps to a waning of effort and attention.

Note that pencil is used instead of pen and that only one success is

necessary. Binet gives only one trial and requires pen. Goddard allows

pencil, but permits only one trial. Kuhlmann requires pen and passes the

child only when two trials out of three are successful. But these

authors locate the test at 5 years. Our results show that nearly three

fourths of 4-year-olds succeed with pencil in one out of three trials if

the scoring is liberal. It makes a great deal of difference whether pen

or pencil is used, and whether two successes are required or only one.

No better illustration could be given of the fact that without

thoroughgoing standardization of procedure and scoring the best mental

test may be misleading as to the degree of intelligence it indicates.

Copying a square is one of three drawing tests used in the Binet scale,

the others being the diamond (year VII), and the designs to be copied

from memory (year X). These tests do not to any great extent test what

is usually known as "drawing ability." Only the square and the diamond

tests are strictly comparable with one another, the other having a

psychologically different purpose. In none of them does success seem to

depend very much on the amount of previous instruction in drawing. To

copy a figure like a square or a diamond requires first of all an

appreciation of spacial relationships. The figure must be perceived as a

whole, not simply as a group of meaningless lines. In the second place,

success depends upon the ability to use the visual impression in guiding

a rather complex set of motor cooerdinations. The latter is perhaps the

main difficulty, and is one which is not fully overcome, at least for

complicated movements, until well toward adult life.

It is interesting to compare the square and the diamond as to relative

difficulty. They have the same number of lines and in each case the

opposite sides are parallel; but whereas 4-year intelligence is equal to

the task of copying a square, the diamond ordinarily requires 7-year

intelligence. Probably no one could have foreseen that a change in the

angles would add so much to the difficulty of the figure. It would be

worth while to devise and standardize still more complicated figures.