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Using a Fast Mapping Approach to Investigate Children’s Learning about Artefacts

Hyde, Grace (2016) Using a Fast Mapping Approach to Investigate Children’s Learning about Artefacts. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Over nine experiments I investigated young children’s ability to learn the names, actions and functions associated with artefacts. Experiment 1 examined whether children, performing a referent selection task, attach a novel action to a novel referent (i.e., applied mutual exclusivity). Children chose the novel artefact significantly more often than chance. Experiments 2 and 3 used tests of comprehension and extension to investigate whether children fast map novel artefact names and actions. I used a strict definition of fast mapping: incidental learning, minimal exposure, and long term retention. Accuracy was above chance, with no significant differences between action and naming. Experiments 4, 5 and 6 created and refined a methodology designed to study children's ability to fast map an artefact’s name, action and function. Following brief incidental exposure to an artefact’s use (i.e., making a music box play), 3- and 5-years-olds were equally likely to fast map a novel name, action and function. In a more challenging task, with just one demonstration of the novel artefact information, 3-year-olds found action easiest to remember in a test of comprehension. Experiment 7 investigated 4-year olds’ production of names and actions after a brief exposure. Actions were produced substantially better than names. Experiment 8 used referent selection tasks to further test 3-year-olds’ mutually exclusive behaviour. Once again, performance with name, action and function did not differ. This suggests children believe that artefacts are associated with a specific name, action and function, and that these are characteristic features of an artefact category. Experiment 9 investigated which of these features we regard as defining category membership: 3-year-olds tend to categorise by shape, whereas older children (and adults) prefer function. Overall, my data suggest that young children are excellent learners of artefact information, although the way humans categorise artefacts may change during later development.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Grace Hyde
Date Deposited: 04 Jul 2016 15:01
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2016 15:01

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