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Theses Doctoral

The Effects of Naming Experiences and Properties of Visual Stimuli on Language Acquisition and the Relationship between Curiosity and Naming

Orlans, Sarah Elizabeth

Children typically acquire language rapidly during their first few years of life. Their rates and levels of proficiency vary, but it is clear that the development of one’s language repertoire impacts academic outcomes and future success across many domains. There are both genetic and environmental factors that affect and contribute to one’s development. For children whose vocal verbal behavior is less well developed, it is imperative that we continue to develop and implement tactics and procedures to intervene in order to accelerate their language development. Researchers have identified Naming as a critical verbal developmental capability that allows one to learn language incidentally. Are there different types of Naming capabilities? Do properties of stimuli affect language acquisition? Does the Naming repertoire relate to children’s level of curiosity about the world around them? In the 3 experiments that follow, I examined the effects of 2 types of Naming experiences and varying properties of visual stimuli on measures of Naming. In Experiments 2 and 3, I also conducted measures of curiosity to assess the possibility of a relationship between Naming and question asking. In my first experiment there were 31 participants. I investigated the effects of match-to-sample and exclusion Naming experiences on incidental acquisition of listener and speaker responses in both adults without disabilities and youth with disabilities. I examined the differences between the 2 age groups and Naming experiences. The adult means of listener and speaker responses were greater than the youth means. All adults met criterion for Naming with the match-to-sample experience, and 9 of 14 adults also achieved criterion levels with the unfamiliar stimuli following the exclusion Naming experience. The adult group’s results showed that the group’s Naming repertoire was fairly balanced for listener responses across the Naming experiences with minimal variability, and its speaker repertoire was not as balanced. The youth group’s results demonstrated similar levels of variability across both topographies. The effect of the Naming experience was significant for speaker responses. In the second experiment, I implemented an intervention to try to establish unfamiliar stimuli as reinforcers to test its effects on the 2 types of Naming probes and curiosity measures in 6 elementary age children with disabilities. There were some effects from the treatment, but following 2 intervention conditions none of the participants met criteria for Naming. The participants’ numbers of accurate listener responses were greater than their speaker responses. In Experiment 3, I conducted tests for curiosity and Naming with sets of stimuli that had varying levels of familiarity and complexity for 9 preschool age children with and without disabilities. As with the first 2 experiments, the numbers of listener responses for participants were greater than their speaker responses, and there was more variability in the speaker responses compared to the listener responses. The results suggested that the type of Naming experience or the familiarity level of the visual stimuli alone did not appear to influence the dependent variables, but rather that there may be an interaction among the independent variables. The means of responses were greater with more familiar stimuli following match-to-sample experiences whereas the means were greater with less familiar stimuli following the exclusionary Naming experiences. The results of the 3 experiments affirmed the independence of the listener and speaker components of Naming and suggest that the demonstration of Naming with unknown, unfamiliar types of stimuli may be a type of Naming capability that may not be present in all individuals who demonstrate Naming with unknown, familiar stimuli.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Applied Behavior Analysis
Thesis Advisors
Greer, R. Douglas
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 31, 2017