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Thesis (M.A.)—University of Nebraska—Lincoln, 1950. Department of Home Economics.


Copyright 1950, the author. Used by permission.


The main objective of this study was to determine whether or not differences exist in the social participation of young children living in an institution as compared with those living with their families.

The study was carried on at the University of Nebraska nursery school during a period of three months.Two different groups of children served as subjects.The first attended the nursery school once a week and consisted of twelve pre-school children living in an institution.The other group of twenty-one subjects attended the same nursery school five days a week, and came from families in the higher socio-economic levels.

The “time sampling” method was used in the observation and recording of six categories of social participation, namely, the unoccupied behavior, solitary play, onlooker behavior, parallel play, associative, and cooperative play.Additional data included the number of the child’s playmates, whether he was talking or quiet, and whether indoors or outdoors.

The results obtained from the analysis of data may be summarized as follows:

  1. When the subjects falling in the age range of 36-54 months were compared, the mean social participation scores of the two groups of children were 6.9 and 27.7, giving a statistically significant difference in favor of the “family” group. Since the scores were weighted high and positive for the parallel, associative and cooperative play, while low and negative for the unoccupied, solitary and onlooker behavior, it is evident that the institutional children were engaged in the negative types of social participation much more than the family children.

  2. The social participation scores of the “family” children surpassed those of the “institutional” children at all age levels.

  3. When compared with data from other similar studies, as well as with the family children of this study, the institutional children were lower in associative and cooperative play, and onlooker behavior, but higher in solitary, independent play and parallel play.

  4. The mean size of the play groups of children for the institutional group was 1.5 while that of the family group was 2.1, although this difference was not found to be significant statistically.

  5. The family children tended to be more talkative than the institutional children while they were engaged in free play situations.

Advisor: Ruth Staples