ERIC Number: ED301854
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1988-Nov
Reference Count: N/A
Defining Is an Unnatural Act: A Study of Written Definitions.
Blachowicz, Camille L. Z.; Fisher, Peter J. L.
A study examined fourth grade students' written definitions to determine if definitions or aspects of definitions were schematized by the students. Subjects, 89 students from several Midwestern suburban school districts and 15 inservice and preservice teachers enrolled at a nearby college, were asked to write definitions of 16 words, four each of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. The definitions were classified into seven categories: category, synonym/antonym, explanation, descriptional or functional explanation, instance, use in a sentence, and repetition or association. Results indicated that adults wrote more definitions that were classified as categorical than did the fourth graders. Results also indicated that significant variation existed in the categories of definitions for the different parts of speech. For example, categorical definitions were most common for nouns but almost nonexistent for verbs. Adults showed similar definitional patterns. These results confirm that it is not productive to attempt to conceptualize a single definition frame or schema for all parts of speech but rather to assume multiple definitional schemata. (Five figures of data are included, and 176 references are attached.) (RS)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Reading Conference (38th, Tucson, AZ, November 29-December 3, 1988).