Say: "Let us suppose that your baseball has been lost in this round field. You have no idea what part of the field it is in. You don't know what direction it came from, how it got there, or with what force it came. All you know is that the ball is lost somewhere in the field. Now, take this pencil and mark out a path to show me how you would hunt for the ball so as to be sure not to miss it. Begin at the gate and show me what path you would take."
Give the instructions always as worded above. Avoid using an expression like, "Show me how you would walk around in the field ": the word around might suggest a circular path.
Sometimes the child merely points or tells how he would go. It is then necessary to say: "No; you must mark out your path with the pencil so I can see it plainly." Other children trace a path only a little way and stop, saying: "Here it is." We then say: "But suppose you have not found it yet. Which direction would you go next? ,: In this way the child must be kept tracing a path until it is evident whether any plan governs his procedure.
The performances secured with this test are conveniently classified into four groups, representing progressively higher types. The first two types represent failures; the third is satisfactory at year VIII, the fourth at year XII. They may be described as follows:
Type a (failure). The child fails to comprehend the instructions and either does nothing at all or else, perhaps, takes the pencil and makes a few random strokes which could not be said to constitute a search.
Type b (also failure). The child comprehends the instructions and carries out a search, but without any definite plan. Absence of plan is evidenced by the crossing and re-crossing of paths, or by "breaks." A break means that the pencil is lifted up and set down in another part of the field. Sometimes only two or three fragments of paths are drawn, but more usually the field is pretty well filled up with random meanderings which cross each other again and again. Other illustrations of type b are: A single straight or curved line going direct to the ball, short haphazard dashes or curves, bare suggestions of a fan or spiral.
Type c (satisfactory at year VIII). A successful performance at year VIII is characterized by the presence of a plan, but one ill-adapted to the purpose. That some forethought is exercised is evidenced, (1) by fewer crossings, (2) by a tendency either to make the lines more or less parallel or else to give them some kind of symmetry, and (3) by fewer breaks. The possibilities of type c are almost unlimited, and one is continually meeting new forms. We have distinguished more than twenty of these, the most common of which may be described as follows:
1. Very rough or zigzag circles or similarly imperfect spirals. 2. Segments of curves joined in a more or less symmetrical fashion. 3. Lines going back and forth across the field, jointed at the ends and not intended to be parallel. 4. The "wheel plan," showing lines radiating from near the center of the field toward the circumference. 5. The "fan plan," showing a number of lines radiating (usually) from the gate and spreading out over the field. 6. "Fan ellipses " or "fan spirals" radiating from the gate like the lines just described. 7. "The leaf plan," "rib plan," or "tree plan," with lines branching off from a trunk line like ribs, veins of a leaf, or branches of a tree. 8. Parallel lines which cross at right angles and mark off the field like a checkerboard. 9. Paths making one or more fairly symmetrical geometrical figures, like a square, a diamond, a star, a hexagon, etc. 10. A combination of two or more of the above plans.
Type d (satisfactory at year XII). Performances of this type meet perfectly, or almost perfectly, the logical requirements of the problem. The paths are almost or quite parallel, and there are no intersections or breaks. The possibilities of type d are fewer and embrace chiefly the following: - 1. A spiral, perfect or almost perfect, and beginning either at the gate or at the center of the field. 2. Concentric circles. 3. Transverse lines parallel or almost so, and joined at the ends.
Grading presents some difficulties because of occasional border-line performances which have a value almost midway between types b and c or between c and d. Frequent reference to the scoring card will enable the examiner, after a little experience, to score nearly all the doubtful performances satisfactorily.
Say to the child: "You can count backwards, can you noil I want you to count backwards for me from 20 to 1. Go ahead." In the great majority of cases this is sufficient; the child comprehends the task and begins. If he does not comprehend and is silent, or starts in, perhaps, to count forwards from 1 or 20, say: "No; I want you to count backwards from 20 to 1, like this: 20-19-18, and clear on down to 1. Now, go ahead."
Insist upon the child trying it even though he asserts he cannot do it. In many such cases an effort is crowned with success. Say nothing about hurrying, as this confuses some subjects. Prompting is not permissible.
The test is passed if the child counts from 20 to 1 in not over forty seconds and with not more than a single error (one omission or one transposition). Errors which the child spontaneously corrects are not counted as errors.