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ERIC Number: EJ1008294
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0885-2006
Inferential Talk during Teacher-Child Interactions in Small-Group Play
Tompkins, Virginia; Zucker, Tricia A.; Justice, Laura M.; Binici, Sevda
Early Childhood Research Quarterly, v28 n2 p424-436 2013
This study examined teachers' questions and children's responses during a play-based activity implemented in small groups within preschool classrooms. The first aim of this study was to describe teachers' questions in terms of four levels of abstraction (i.e., a continuum of literal to inferential questions) and children's responses to these questions. The second aim was to examine the relations between teachers' questions and children's responses using sequential analyses, to include children's level of abstraction and mean length of utterance (MLU). Participants were 39 teachers and up to six children from their preschool classroom. We found that teachers' questions made up an average of 25% of their talk to children during play, and were relatively balanced between literal and inferential questions. Furthermore, significant sequential associations were found between the level of abstraction of teachers' questions and the level of abstraction of children's responses (e.g., teachers' inferential questions tended to elicit children's inferential responses). Finally, we found that teachers' inferential questions were not related to children's MLU; that is, teachers' more abstract questions did not elicit longer utterances from children. These findings suggest that play is a valuable context in which teachers may promote children's use of inferential language. (Contains 2 figures and 4 tables.)
Elsevier. 3251 Riverport Lane, Maryland Heights, MO 63043. Tel: 800-325-4177; Tel: 314-447-8000; Fax: 314-447-8033; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Early Childhood Education; Preschool Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Mean Length of Utterance