Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2016

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Psychology & Neuroscience

First Advisor

Eliana Colunga

Second Advisor

Richard Olson

Third Advisor

Rolf Norgaard

Fourth Advisor

Daniel Jones


Children learn language through immersion and interaction in particular linguistic environments. Interactions between parent and child, in particular, can alter language learning significantly. Current research favors storybook reading as the primary method to encourage language learning, as parent interactions with children while using storybooks allowed the child to learn language three times more effectively than without storybook reading (Sénéchal, 1997); however, other work suggests that the use of physical, three-dimensional objects is just as significant (Lee, 1993; Kwon, Bingham, Lewsader, Jeon & Elicker, 2013; Baki, Kosa & Guven, 2011). This study tests the effect of parent and child interaction with two-dimensional (2-D) and three-dimensional (3-D) stimulus on child language learning. In this study, the 2-D stimulus is a storybook, and the 3-D stimulus is a 3-D puzzle. Results of this study indicate that while parent and child interactions differ distinctly when using 2-D versus 3-D stimuli, child language learning is similar across conditions. These results support the theoretical results that 3-D stimulus and object use with parent interaction can be a useful tool in word learning, comparable to interactive storybook learning.