Part-term Learning in Preschool Children with Low Socioeconomic Status
Spencer, Elizabeth J
The goal of this study was to examine word learning in preschool children with low socioeconomic status (SES) to inform an understanding of the limited word knowledge of this population. There is evidence to suggest that impoverished linguistic input explains substantial variability in word knowledge of children with low SES. Research has not yet considered the ways that children with low SES make use of linguistic input. Participants, preschool children with low SES, completed a part-term fast-mapping task. Specific cues of a familiar whole object, possessive syntax, and whole-part juxtaposition were provided to children in linguistic input using standard verbal scripts. As a group, participants provided more part-term responses when provided with cues than when no cues were presented. Participants provided the most part-term responses when multiple cues were presented in combination. Thus, children with low SES appear to use word learning strategies to make use of information in the linguistic input, similar to peers with higher SES. Participants with limited word knowledge, as defined by performance on a norm-referenced measure, were less accurate on the part-term task than peers with age-appropriate word knowledge. This finding suggests that children with low SES and limited word knowledge are inefficient word learners.