Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Fall 2016

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Eliana Colunga

Second Advisor

Richard Olson

Third Advisor

Andrea Feldman


The present study examined the child-caregiver dyad play environment and its relationship to child language development. The primary aim was to determine if joint attention was related to vocabulary acquisition. Dyads consisting of 19 toddlers and a caregiver were observed in a laboratory during free play. The child-caregiver dyad interactions were coded for object being held, gaze, pointing, noun usage, eye contact, engagement, and joint attention. Child language progression was assessed throughout the 6-month long study using the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory. Findings suggest a relationship between joint attention and rate of MCDI percentile increase, and a connection between caregiver and child noun usage.