ERIC Number: ED192585
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1980
Reference Count: 0
Polysemous Words and Sentence Comprehension: A Follow-Up Study.
Kendall, Janet Ross; Mason, Jana M.
Three experiments were conducted to determine how children assign meaning to a multiple-meaning word in a sentence context. Fourth-grade children were given sentences in which a key word carried a meaning other than its "primary," or most familiar, meaning. Two types of multiple choice questions could then follow: in the first type, the secondary, or "correct" meaning, and the primary were among the choices. The second type had only the secondary meaning among the choices. Findings show that when the primary meaning was among the choices, it was chosen by the children, even when it was inappropriate to sentence context and the children knew the secondary meaning. This would indicate that children were not attending to sentence context, but to individual words. They correctly chose secondary meaning when it appeared without the primary meaning. Training was then conducted to determine which of two methods was more effective for teaching meaning: teaching contextualization or teaching individual words. Findings show the former to be better. Two explanations are offered: (1) grade-school reading instruction focuses more on individual words rather than extended discourse, making contextualization difficult; and (2) ability to contextualize may be due to the child's knowledge of different meanings of a word. Thus, context training is more effective for meaning learning. (PJM)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (New Orleans, LA, April 7-10, 1980).