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
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
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.