SELF-VERBALIZATION AND ATTENTIONAL BEHAVIORS OF LOW SOCIOECONOMIC URBAN 4- AND 5-YEAR-OLD CHILDREN DURING PUZZLE TASKS

LILLIAN HAINES GOLDBERG, Fordham University

Abstract

The purpose of the study was to examine two developmental phenomena of information processing in low SES, urban, young children: self-verbalization and nonverbal attentional behaviors during puzzle tasks. Self-verbalization utterances were examined for quantity and quality of such speech, and nonverbal activity included both haptics and visual orientation during three puzzle complexity tasks.^ The study was based on self-verbalization theories of Mead, Piaget, and Vygotsky and attentional theories of Berlyne, Hutt, and Wright and Vlietstra.^ Null hypotheses were examined in relation to differences among cultural groups, between ages and sexes, and between successful or unsuccessful performance on puzzles.^ The subjects of the study consisted of 147 low SES, Black, Hispanic, and White, young 4- and 5-year-old children who met criteria for receiving free publicly funded day care services, and who were selected on the basis of a stratified random sampling from a population of 12 day care centers in New York City.^ Two category systems were used for examining the quantity and quality of audio-recorded self-verbalization utterances, the Piaget Categories of Egocentric Speech, and the Kohlberg, Yaeger, and Hjertholm Developmental Hierarchy of Private Speech. The instrument for examining the nonverbal attentional behaviors of the subjects during puzzle assembly tasks was the Observation Schedule of Nonverbal Selective Attentional Behaviors (OS-NVSAB), constructed by the investigator and based on time sampling techniques adapted from Brandt, Medley and Mitzel, Hutt and Hutt, and Seay. The OS-NVSAB was designed to record 20 specific behaviors, subcomponents of 7 operations, which included both the subjects' exploratory/manipulative activities of hands and fingers, and visual orientation during puzzle assembly tasks. OS-NVSAB behaviors were also dichotomized into two distinct modes of attentional responses, search and exploratory behaviors, postulated by Wright and Vlietstra.^ The Goodenough-Harris Drawing Test (GHDT) was administered to provide supplementary information concerning intellectual maturity of the subjects through a standardized measure.^ Analyses of variance were computed on hypotheses involving the examination of the effects of the independent variables of cultural group, age, and sex on dependent variables, self-verbalization and nonverbal attentional behaviors. A series of t tests were performed to examine the effects of successful and unsuccessful performance at puzzles. Pearson product-moment correlations were computed to examine relationships of self-verbalization as measured by each category system, with the nonverbal attentional behaviors, and the GHDT scores.^ Significant differences were found for specific puzzle complexity levels between age groups and between successful and unsuccessful subjects for self-verbalization and nonverbal attentional behaviors. Significant relationships were found between self-verbalization utterances and three OS-NVSAB operations, difficult puzzle. A significant difference was indicated for search mode behaviors, as a function of age, on the easy puzzle.^ The major conclusions drawn were: (a) low SES subjects emit self-verbalization utterances at puzzle tasks, consistent with findings of studies involving middle- and upper-class subjects; (b) despite differences in culture, family backgrounds, language and/or origin of birth of subjects or parents, urban, young subjects manifest similar self-verbalization utterances and nonverbal attentional behaviors during puzzle tasks; and (c) developmental differences in information acquisition behavior modes are dependent upon both age and task type for low SES children, extending the hypothesis of Wright and Vlietstra. ^

Subject Area

Early childhood education

Recommended Citation

GOLDBERG, LILLIAN HAINES, "SELF-VERBALIZATION AND ATTENTIONAL BEHAVIORS OF LOW SOCIOECONOMIC URBAN 4- AND 5-YEAR-OLD CHILDREN DURING PUZZLE TASKS" (1980). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8020986.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8020986

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