THE EFFECTS OF ALLEGORY, FABLE, AND DIDACTIC PRESENTATIONS ON PROBLEM SOLVING AND MEMORY IN CHILDREN (STORY)

MARGARET MARY GLEESON, Fordham University

Abstract

This study examined children's comprehension and memory of allegory by focusing upon the application of maxims to problem situations. Research in metaphor understanding (Vosniadou, Ortony, Reynolds, & Wilson 1984) as well as in allegory (Kopin, Massey, Blank, Gardner, & Winner, 1983) has suggested that young children comprehend figurative meaning in some circumstances. The present research was designed to compare the effectiveness of a maxim conveyed in a figurative mode (e.g., allegory or fable) to a literal, didactic, presentation. Five sets of comparable allegory, fable, and didactic passages were employed.^ Forty-eight first, third, and fifth graders were each assigned to one of the three presentation modes. The passages were attributed to a wise old lady, Minerva, who helped children solve their problems. Each child solved three problem vignettes by applying the maxim presented in each of the five passages for a total of fifteen problem vignettes. Vignettes were constructed so that target and distractor alternatives were equally attractive; the target alternative only became salient in terms of the maxim expressed in the relevant passage. The total number of target alternatives selected for the fifteen vignettes constituted one dependent measure. Memory for the maxims was tested seven to ten days later. Five additional problems were solved without repetition of the passage. Children were further asked to recall as many ideas as possible from the first passage read in the earlier session. Finally, children rated how well they liked the passages and Minerva.^ Results indicated that children performed better at applying maxims to problems as they advanced in grade. The mode in which the maxim was presented did not significantly affect application in either the first or second session. However, there was a significant effect of mode in the recall of the passages. Children in the allegory and fable conditions recalled significantly more ideas than children in the didactic condition.^ These results indicate that the understanding of figurative modes does not differ essentially from understanding direct discourse. Further examination of figurative understanding is needed to determine whether the highly memorable figurative forms provide more specific advantages than were tapped in this study. ^

Subject Area

Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

GLEESON, MARGARET MARY, "THE EFFECTS OF ALLEGORY, FABLE, AND DIDACTIC PRESENTATIONS ON PROBLEM SOLVING AND MEMORY IN CHILDREN (STORY)" (1985). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8521409.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8521409

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