The effect of labelling on infants’ object exploration.

Lancaster PhD student, Marina Loucaides presented a poster at the 1st Lancaster Conference on Infant & Child Development, Lancaster, UK. (August 2016)

Authors: Loucaides, M., Twomey, K. E., & Westermann, G.

Abstract: Young children learn their first object names by associating the words they hear with items they see. Understanding the processes that help children link words with objects will offer important insight into cognitive development. One significant component of learning word-object associations is the way in which children interact with objects; however this has yet to be studied in detail. For a full understanding of infants’ object exploration it is important to investigate where exactly they look during labelling tasks; that is, whether and for how long they look to specific objects’ parts during physical interaction or passive observation, and whether their language level affects the learning of names during labelling events.

The current study will use head-mounted eyetrackers that record children’s looking to explore how children at 16 and 24-months interact with novel objects. Participants will be assigned to a physical interaction group, in which they will handle objectsand to a no physical interaction group, with no handling. Within these conditions half the children will be assigned to labelling group, in which objects will be given novel labels (e.g., Look, a blicket!), and half to no labelling groupin which objects will be unlabelled. Following this session and a five-minute break the experimenter will test children’s retention of label-object mappings by presenting three objects and asking children for each in turn (e.g., Which one’s the blicket?). Parents will complete a vocabulary inventory (UK-CDI; Alcock et al., in prep) to examine whether language level interacts with object exploration in label learning.

We hypothesise that different ages will show different visual exploration styles. Vocabulary level and physical interaction with the objects are also anticipated to affect task’s label learning. This research will enhance our understanding of early cognition by demonstrating how children’s interaction with their environment affects their word learning.