Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology & Neuroscience

First Advisor

Eliana Colunga

Second Advisor

Matt Jones

Third Advisor

Pui Fong Kan

Fourth Advisor

Matt Keller

Fifth Advisor

Mike Mozer

Abstract

Screen media, such as television, videos, and computers, are an increasingly common environment for children’s learning, even among infants and toddlers. Prior research suggests, however, that very young children learn less effectively from a screen than they do from face-to-face interaction with a person, the so-called video deficit effect. In three studies involving 165 2.- to 3-year-old children I investigated the characteristics and scope of toddlers’ word and category learning from video, as well as aspects of the screen mediated environment that are associated with this learning. In the first study, two experiments examined children’s word learning, generalization, and retention of novel lexical categories learned from watching a video compared to interacting with a person. While toddlers learned and retained novel, one-to-one word-referent mappings just as well from a screen as they did from a person, they experienced a video deficit in generalizing those words to novel categories. Children trained by video retained less clear, coherent categories after a delay compared to those trained in person. The second study investigated how the addition of either perceptual or social information supports toddlers’ learning from a video. The results suggest that being able to interact with the physical objects to be learned about while watching a video may ameliorate the deficit, but learning words directly from a person while watching a video does not help. The third study assessed toddlers’ word and category learning in relation to a common, naturalistic context of screen mediated learning: parent-child co-viewing. The results showed that parents’ use of label elicitation questions and positive feedback was positively associated with learning, whereas parental speech that focused on the video and content more broadly showed negative associations with toddlers’ learning. Together these studies add to knowledge about the scope and limits of young children’s learning from screen media, and how aspects of the environment may support this learning. Implications for explanatory accounts of the video deficit effect, potential uses in practice, and future directions for research are discussed.

Share

COinS