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Evaluative explanations in children's narratives of a video sequence without dialogue

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 October 1999

JUDY H. EATON
Affiliation:
School of Health and Social Sciences, Coventry University
GLYN M. COLLIS
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, University of Warwick
VICKY A. LEWIS
Affiliation:
School of Education, The Open University

Abstract

Children's narratives consist of event clauses and contextualizing or ‘evaluative’ clauses. Bamberg & Damrad-Frye (1991) and Bamberg (1994) claimed that young children make limited use of evaluative clauses because they are less able to adopt a global perspective on the narrative. In an earlier study, Karmiloff-Smith (1985) demonstrated that the narratives of younger children have coherence only at a local level. However, Wellman & Bartsch (1988) showed that young children could produce evaluative-like causal explanations if given a specific prompt. The present study on 160 young children aged five, seven, nine and eleven years examined their production of evaluatives in narratives of a story presented as a video sequence with no spoken dialogue, to ensure that the children's production was not simply a re-working of verbal input. Results indicated that prompts greatly facilitated children's production of evaluatives and that they could adopt a global perspective on the story when formulating evaluatives.

These results indicate that limitations in the narratives of young children are more plausibly explained by contextual factors influencing language production and by constraints on working memory than by children's presumed lack of understanding of the structure of events or their inferences about the minds of the characters.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 1999 Cambridge University Press

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