ERIC Number: ED258482
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1985
The Development of Abstract Noun Definitions.
Bidlack, Betty M.
A study of the development of abstract noun definitions in children and adolescents had as its subjects 120 students evenly divided into age groups of 10-, 14-, and 18-year-olds, randomly selected from students scoring in the 40th to 88th percentiles on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (for 10-year-olds) and the Tests of Achievement and Proficiency (for the older students). Each subject was interviewed and asked to define eight abstract nouns given in random order. The responses were coded into meaning units, including class, characteristic, criterion, synonym, extension, and negation, and their occurrences were analyzed statistically. Results show a clear pattern of emergence of abstract noun definitions. The occurrence of classificatory, characteristic, and criterion responses increased with age, and the synonym, extension, and negation responses decreased with age. In all age groups, negation played an important part in noun definitions. Few subjects at any age seemed to be aware that their definitions were too broad or too narrow. No significant sex differences or interactions of sex and age were found. The findings suggest that an appropriate task in education is to help students fine-tune their understanding of abstract meanings. (MSE)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (69th Chicago, Illinois, March 31-April 4, 1985).