Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Joseph Stoltman

Second Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Whitten

Third Advisor

Dr. Lynn Nations Johnson

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Nan E. Cooley


The purpose of this study was to test the central hypothesis that “children by the age of four years construct accurate and lasting conceptions o f time (past, present, future) and space (near and far away).” In order to test this hypothesis the researcher relied on qualitative research guidelines developed and published in recent years to address social science and educational research issues. The research design is especially applicable to young children where the researcher assumes the role of participant observer. In order to control for the context of the research, the children were observed for time and space cognitive constructions while being taught a curriculum designed to address those concepts in an age appropriate format. The curriculum was on social studies with an emphasis on history and geography.

The study was conducted in a private Montessori pre-school. The sample (n=8) was purposive and selected to identify sensitivity conceptual development of time and space.

The methodology used for collecting the data was action research and a survey questionnaire administered to the same children and parents after a lapse of time of three years. The data collected consisted of four anecdotal records and five visual data response sets of maps made by the children with commentaries. These data were analyzed through de-contextualized/re-contextualized analysis, descriptive analysis and interpretation. The data collected by the survey were further analyzed through an evaluative and comparative analysis.

The findings support the thesis statement that children during their fourth year of life construct representations of space and time using “intuitive sensitivity”, or intuition. The effects of a specially designed curriculum may have enhanced these constructions, but the data from the study do not permit a direct affirmation of those effects.

The study offers a basis from which to continue research into the nature, the limits, the extent and the boundaries of young children’s understanding of time and space, and into the conditions under which this knowledge may occur and develop. These are questions concerning the epistemology of young children’s time and space constructs which are in need of further inquiry.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access