ERIC Number: EJ1078701
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Feb
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 45
Cognitive Flexibility Supports Preschoolers' Detection of Communicative Ambiguity
Gillis, Randall; Nilsen, Elizabeth S.
First Language, v34 n1 p58-71 Feb 2014
To become successful communicators, children must be sensitive to the clarity/ambiguity of language. Significant gains in children's ability to detect communicative ambiguity occur during the early school-age years. However, little is known about the cognitive abilities that support this development. Relations between cognitive flexibility and ambiguity detection were assessed in preschool (4- to 5-years-old, n = 40) and school-age (6- to 7-years-old, n = 36) children. Children rated the quality of clues (unambiguous/ambiguous) to the location of hidden stimuli provided by a videotaped speaker. Cognitive flexibility was assessed through a task requiring children to sequentially sort toys. Both age groups rated ambiguous clues as less helpful than unambiguous clues; however, school-age children were better able to detect ambiguity. Cognitive flexibility was related to preschool (but not school-age) children's communicative ambiguity detection, when controlling for age and receptive language. Results suggest that cognitive flexibility may be particularly important for the initial development of ambiguity detection.
Descriptors: Cognitive Ability, Preschool Children, Language Acquisition, Ambiguity (Semantics), Receptive Language, Age Differences, Correlation, Toys, Elementary School Students, Video Technology, Language Processing, Task Analysis, Skill Development, Classification, Statistical Analysis, Predictor Variables
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Test of Language Development