The development of skill in discourse comprehension depends upon the child's ability to construct an internal representation of the text that reflects its structural properties. Once, represented in memory, the child must be able to use these properties to access and perform further mental operations on the text information. The proposed research involves discourse analysis of narratives at the meaning level of events, states and actions where meaning is defined in terms of the conceptualizations that underlie the linguistic description of these units and the relationships that tie the conceptualizations to one another. In the present case, these relations are causal, temporal and logical in nature. The child's representation of narrative discourse is depicted in terms of a recursive event transition model (a network of events and their causal relations). This model generates descriptions of stories in terms of the story grammar functions for events, the meaning relations of events, the event organization in terms of goal-action-outcome episodes, and higher, hierarchical organization of the episodes. This model permits explicit examination of how the child interprets the text information and the properties of the child's repesentation of the text. Variation in the text structure determines these properties and has profound effects upon the nature and quality of comprehension. Studies are proposed that compare two key structural variations (successive versus hierarchial episodes) and their effects on children's judgments of importance, their memory, summarization and explanations of events, their logical reasoning about events in narrative contexts, their development of comprehension via explanatory-causal questioning and feedback, and their production of stories. The proposed research adds an important control for content while varying text structure.
|Levine, L J; Stein, N L; Liwag, M D (1999) Remembering children's emotions: sources of concordant and discordant accounts between parents and children. Dev Psychol 35:790-801|
|Liwag, M D; Stein, N L (1995) Children's memory for emotional events: the importance of emotion-related retrieval cues. J Exp Child Psychol 60:2-31|
|Graesser, A C; Singer, M; Trabasso, T (1994) Constructing inferences during narrative text comprehension. Psychol Rev 101:371-95|
|van den Broek, P (1989) Causal reasoning and inference making in judging the importance of story statements. Child Dev 60:286-97|