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ERIC Number: EJ1078697
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Apr
Pages: 23
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 39
ISSN: ISSN-0142-7237
Keeping Track of Characters: Factors Affecting Referential Adequacy in Children's Narratives
Colozzo, Paola; Whitely, Cristy
First Language, v34 n2 p155-177 Apr 2014
This study considered the adequacy of references used by children to introduce, maintain, and reintroduce characters in complex narratives involving multiple characters. Sixty-three English-speaking Canadian children from kindergarten to second grade (M age 7.0 years) told two multi-episode stories from wordless picture books. Analyses considered differences in referential adequacy both within-children and between grades. There was an unexpectedly large difference in adequacy levels across stories, mostly because of an overuse of pronouns in one story. Maintenance was the easiest referential function, whereas reintroduction proved more difficult than introduction only for the story with consistently lower adequacy levels. Participants across grades were affected by referential function and by story in analogous ways. The kindergartners did nonetheless obtain lower adequacy levels than the two higher grades due to a higher use of pronouns and because they were less able to clearly refer to characters even when they were using the same linguistic forms. Participants in the three grades successfully used a diversity of linguistic forms for their character references across referential functions. Together, these findings have important implications for referential cohesion in young school-aged children. First, they invite caution when drawing conclusions regarding developmental changes based on a single story. Second, they suggest that reintroduction may be particularly sensitive to story features that make referencing more demanding. Finally, they underscore the importance of considering reference within the broader textual context in order to produce a detailed account of referential abilities.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education; Kindergarten; Primary Education; Early Childhood Education; Grade 1; Grade 2
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada (Vancouver)