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Real-world word learning: exploring children's developing semantic representations of a science term

By R Best, Julie Dockrell and N Braisby


Assessments of lexical acquisition are often limited to pre-school children on forced choice comprehension measures. This study assessed the understandings 30 school-age children (mean age = 6;7) acquired about the science term, eclipse following a naturalistic exposure to a solar eclipse. The knowledge children acquired about eclipses and a control term, comet was assessed at three points in time (baseline-test, two-week post-test and five-month post-test) using a range of assessment tasks (multiple-choice comprehension, picture-naming, drawing and a model of a solar system task). Children's knowledge was compared to 15 adult controls during the baseline-test and two-week post-test. Children acquired extensive knowledge about eclipses, but not comets; at the two-week post-test and five-month post-test, the majority of children named and drew eclipses and „made? an eclipse using models of the sun, moon and earth. Also, children's eclipse knowledge more closely approximated adult-level understandings at the two-week post-test than at the baseline-test. Implications for the study of lexical acquisition in later development are discussed

Year: 2006
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