THE EFFECTS OF QUESTIONS WITH PIAGETIAN OPERATIONAL WORDS ON LEVELS OF INFERENCE

FLAVIA CLAUDIA TREMONTE, Fordham University

Abstract

This study investigated the effects of logical operations in questions on processing inference, in particular, the effects of the words all, some, so, and really in stimulating an elaborated deep level inferential processing. In addition, the study examined the effect of underlining on level of inference processing.^ The levels of inference were based on categorical, synonymous, and antonymous relationships between words in text (Level I) and on theories concerning the effect of conflicting information and additional elaborated information on making inferences (Level II).^ Theoretical substantiation for the role of logical operations in stimulating deep level inferences was based on Piaget's theory of cognitive development, and on theories of the relationships of language and thought, constructive memory, and reasoning.^ The experimental sample consisted of 312 sixth-grade students from two similar communities in Westchester County, New York, and was divided into three reading levels.^ The experimental materials consisted of three alternate forms of an instrument designed by the investigator, which includes three stories and six postquestions. The first two questions were immediate recall questions, and the last four questions were inference questions. The inference questions for the first story were without the Piagetian operational words all, some, so, and really. The inference questions for the second story dealt with the Piagetian operational words, which were underlined for the third story.^ Statistical analyses were concerned solely with those subjects who responded differently to one condition than they did to another. The McNemar Test for Significance of Changes was employed to compare those subjects who responded on Level II to questions without the Piagetian operational words but did not respond on Level II to questions with Piagetian operational words (R/NR), and those subjects who did not respond on Level II to questions without Piagetian operational words but responded on Level II to questions with Piagetian operational words (NR/R). The same type of comparison of (NR/R) and (R/NR) groups was made between each of the categories designated in the hypotheses. A chi-square test of homogeneity was utilized to compare differences in distribution of numbers of respondents for categories of classification words and for dimensional ordering words and between reading levels.^ According to the McNemar Test, the number of Level II respondents was significantly greater in NR/R groups than in R/NR groups for both classification and dimensional ordering words. However, the chi-square test of homogeneity indicated that the number of Level II respondents was significantly greater for classification words than for dimensional ordering words.^ There was no significant difference between R/NR and NR/R groups when the Piagetian operational words were underlined. However, supplementary analyses indicated that only when so was underlined did it generate a significantly larger number of respondents when compared with so not underlined and questions without so.^ The major conclusions derived from the study were: (a) Piagetian operational words in questions can stimulate deeper levels of inferential processing; (b) at the sixth-grade level, students are able to process classification words more easily than dimensional ordering words; and (c) underlining is not a necessary cue when operational words are present in questions.^ The three major implications of this study are: (a) levels of inference can be defined more precisely; (b) levels of inference responses are a function of the operational levels of the students; and (c) operational words are an effective strategy for signaling operations. ^

Subject Area

Reading instruction

Recommended Citation

TREMONTE, FLAVIA CLAUDIA, "THE EFFECTS OF QUESTIONS WITH PIAGETIAN OPERATIONAL WORDS ON LEVELS OF INFERENCE" (1980). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8021010.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8021010

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