A DESCRIPTIVE ANALYSIS OF COGNITIVE-LINGUISTIC ASPECTS OF VERBAL INTERACTIONS BETWEEN MOTHERS AND THEIR THREE YEAR-OLDS

LAURIE WOLKIN, Fordham University

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine verbal interactions between three-year-olds and their mothers. Specifically, Blank's Cognitive-Linguistic System of Assessment (1980) was used to describe the cognitive complexity of mothers' initiating utterances, the resultant adequacy of their children's responses, the type (oblige or comment) of mothers' initiations, the form (question or directive) of mothers' initiations and the role of the child's initiations in dialogue. Also examined was the quality of affective response (positive/negative) of mothers' to their children's initiations. These aspects of verbal interactions were described with special reference to the child's sex and IQ.^ Subjects for this investigation consisted of twenty-three mother-child pairs of middle socio-economic level. There were eleven mother-son pairs and twelve mother-daughter pairs. In the "Average IQ" group there were nine mother-child pairs. In the "High IQ" group there were eleven mother-child pairs, thereby excluding three of the mother-child pairs from the IQ groups.^ Each mother-child pair was observed on a video-taped recording of a ten-minute segment where the mothers had been instructed to teach their child a sorting task. Blank's assessment model was used to code verbal interactions between mother and child. Research questions were addressed by a descriptive analysis of coded transcripts of the tapes.^ The results indicated that the mothers utilized all levels of cognitive complexity in their initiations yet were, for the most part, selectively reliant on those levels to which their children responded adequately. In contrast to research identifying universals in mothers' strategies of language usage to pre-school aged children, individual differences were observed in this study in the strategies selected by the mothers in facilitating their child's comprehension. The IQ (or cognitive maturity) of the child effected the mothers' language usage. Sex differences were not significant, however, apparently due to the small sample size. Individual differences were also observed in the form of mothers' initiations (questions or directives). Children's initiations were constrained by the experimental task. Mothers' responses to their children's initiations were generally positive. ^

Subject Area

Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

WOLKIN, LAURIE, "A DESCRIPTIVE ANALYSIS OF COGNITIVE-LINGUISTIC ASPECTS OF VERBAL INTERACTIONS BETWEEN MOTHERS AND THEIR THREE YEAR-OLDS" (1983). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8308494.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8308494

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