Presentation of MSc Child Development Education dissertations

16th October 2018 : 17:00 - 18:30

Category: Seminar

Location: Department of Education, Seminar Rooms K/L

Mohen Zhang ‘Effects of group membership and visual access on children’s selective trust in the competitive and non-competitive contexts.’

Two experiments examined how informants’ group membership (social cue) and visual access (epistemic cue) can influence children’s selective trust in non-competitive and competitive contexts. Participants (3-5 year 𝑁=35; 6-8 year 𝑁=33) were assigned to novel groups (blue and red), while an ingroup informant and an outgroup informant provided conflicting testimony about a hidden picture in a box. In the non-competitive context (Experiment 1) children in both age groups trusted the ingroup informant when both informants had visual access. When only the ingroup informant had visual access, children trusted the ingroup informant more. In the inconsistent scenario where the ingroup informant did not have visual access but the outgroup informant did, both the younger and the older children’s trust in the ingroup informant decreased, with only the 6-8 year olds judging the ingroup informant as more trustworthy (significantly below chance). In Experiment 2 where children were told that the two groups were competitive, the older children endorsed the ingroup informant significantly more, and the proportion of them who claimed the ingroup informant was more trustworthy in the inconsistent scenario increased to the chance level. These results indicated that the younger children did not show a clear preference for either of the two cues when making selective trust decisions; however, the older children attached more weight to visual access in the non-competitive context and they showed some sensitivity to informants’ self-interests in the competitive context

Ashly Benny ‘An intervention for early Malayalam reading and writing: Exploring a home-based programme to support heritage language learners’.

Malayalam is an unexplored Alphasyllabary which stems from the South Dravidian language family. Alphasyllabic scripts cover a large linguistic landscape and are used in South Asia, Southeast Asia (Brahmi-derived), Ethiopia and parts of North America (Nag et al., 2010). However, studies investigating reading acquisition in alphasyllabic orthographies are scarce in the literature. The present study investigates the effects of an early Malayalam reading and writing intervention in UK-born, second-generation Malayali children. Specifically, the study aimed to provide new information in four areas (1) what is the status of heritage language proficiency amongst second-generation UK-born Malayali children aged between 8-11-year-olds (2) does visual complexity of the Malayalam writing script affect children’s akshara knowledge (knowledge of the Malayalam symbols) but when they are taught together (3) does motor encoding influence akshara recognition and (4) does the nature of exposure affect children’s ability to transfer akshara knowledge. 30 bilingual children between 8-11 years of age were first assessed on emergent Malayalam literacy skills including akshara reading and writing, emergent literacy and vocabulary. Participants in the study were taught 30 akshara using four different conditions: (1) simple akshara taught with copying (2) simple akshara taught without copying (3) complex akshara taught with copying (4) complex akshara taught without copying. After the 4-week intervention period, the participants were assessed for post-test language skills using the same measures. The pre-test measures highlighted that children had very weak Malayalam emergent literacy knowledge. The intervention gains from this brief study suggest that that Malayalam heritage language can be passed on to children with minimum cost by simply utilising parents’ language knowledge and willingness to teach children. Furthermore, the results of the study revealed weaker akshara knowledge (recognition and writing) when writing complex akshara in comparison to simple akshara. The addition of a diacritic also increased the complexity of the symbol block which negatively affected children’s akshara recognition and recall. There was evidence for motor encoding aiding better akshara learning (recognition and writing) and word decoding in comparison to a see-say method without copying practices. The intervention also provided evidence that teaching through an analytic approach allowed children to transfer knowledge to a different yet related task.

 Aneyn O’Grady ‘Exploring Mind-Space: A Training Study in the Development of Emotion Concepts & Language Skill.’​

The role of language in the development of social skill has important implications for how children form emotion concepts. Exploratory in nature, the current study developed training on emotion terms, a coding scheme for definitions of emotion words, and an emotion identification computer game to investigate the relationship between emotion terms, emotion concept representation, and social skill. Participants were 28 primary school children age’s eight to nine from two different schools in Oxford, UK. A within-subjects design was adopted to address four research questions: (1) does concentrated training on emotion terms lead to an increase in language complexity and emotion representation when defining emotion terms? (2) Is there a relationship between language skill level and language complexity? (3) Is there a relationship between language skill level and emotion representation? (4) Is there a relationship between language skill level and emotion identification skill? A paired samples t-test to test the effect of the training on participant emotion term definitions at post-training yielded no significant results. Significant positive correlations were found between language complexity and emotion representation for participants at both schools, as well as between language skill level and emotion representation for participants at one school. Multiple theories on emotion, empathy, conceptual blending, and language acquisition were integrated so as to advance an alternate theoretical framework for social skill that allows for individual differences (i.e., Mind-Space) and multi-faceted emotion understanding in children.