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Title: An investigation of intermodal preferential looking as a measure of language comprehension
Author: Syrnyk, Corinne J.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3494 8092
Awarding Body: University of Lincoln
Current Institution: University of Lincoln
Date of Award: 2008
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Little is known of how the only method capable of directly investigating children's early word knowledge namely, intermodal preferential looking (IPL), compares to other established measures of language comprehension. Accordingly, evidence of the extent of young children's early word knowledge is also lacking. To address these questions word knowledge was examined using IPL and compared to a range of other measures. Although most studies compare cohorts cross-sectionally to assume progression from one age to another, here children were examined at 9, 12, 18, and 24 months ofage both longitudinally (N = 27) and cross-sectionally. In the IPL task children were presented with words parents reported them to understand. It was also examined whether children understand words that they are typically expected to, according to age-related reporting frequencies. IPL data for words children were reported and expected to understand was correlated with performance on four other language measures: the Communicative Developmental Inventory (CDI), the Bayley Scales of Infant Development (BSID-II), the Reynell Developmental Language Scales (RDLS-III), and an enactment task. Results found evidence of relationships between IPL and other measures at all ages, although these were at times inconsistent across cohorts. The presence of associations was found to be attributed to differences in vocabulary size and parental reporting. Looking performance and IPL's associations with other established measures highlight IPL's sensitivity as a measure of comprehension and suitability as a potential language assessment tool. Furthermore, as early as 9 months of age children were found to look more towards the named target when presented with words they were individually reported to understand. Words they were expected to understand according to general frequency data (Fenson, Dale, Reznick, Bates, ThaI, & Pethick, 1994; Hamilton, Plunkett, & Schafer, 2000) failed to show any effects. Similarly, children's 10 comprehension was found to be influenced by vocabulary size and parental reporting, and to vary with age. These findings provide amongst the first direct evidence for very young children's comprehension of words and for how this knowledge develops. Additionally, the effects of the repetition of visual images upon children's word comprehension was investigated by presenting both cohorts at all ages with images of paired items twice during the IPL task. Results indicated that 18- and 24-month-old children displayed more robust evidence of comprehension when presented with repeated items. This suggests that simple repetition may benefit the measurement of comprehension and, therefore, has important implications for the interpretation of comprehension - particularly for IPL studies which often incorporate numerous repetitions of visual stimuli.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available