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Early Childhood Learning - Essay Example

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There's an ongoing debate on the role of conceptual information in early childhood word learning, on one hand the Attentional Learning Account holds that conceptual information begin to exert their influence only relatively late in the word learning. The essay will begin by focusing on the data that supports the second view and then that which supports the first view (The Attentional Learning Account view), then some criticism of the controversy itself and different views other than the two mentioned earlier will be presented, and finally a conclusion about the debate…
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Early Childhood Learning
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Download file to see previous pages The third part will summarize some of the commentaries on the controversy and finally the conclusion will discuss which if any view is correct, and the importance of the controversy at hand.
In an experiment conducted by Booth and Waxman (2002), a group of three years old children were subject to the same objects which were separated into two groups, either as animate objects or artifacts. When some of the objects with eyes on them, which are strong perceptual cues to animacy, and the objects were presented as artifacts, the children characterized them as artifacts.
This shows that even in the face of strong perceptual gestures, conceptual information still aids the process of word learning in childhood, a view that contradicts the Attentional Learning Account view. Something which sparked a number of responses and different interpretations to this experiment but which face certain difficulties that further support the view that conceptual information does have a role in early word learning.
First it was noted that both conc...
s, in what sense then is perceptual information immune to conceptual information This simply means that if two factors affect the same variable, the only way one of the factors can be immune to the other is if one of them does not have an effect at all on the variable, something that the experiment mentioned above excludes.
Second it was claimed by the Attentional Learning Account that perceptual information contributes directly to word learning unaided by any conceptual information; the experiment shows however that perceptual learning can be aided by conceptual information in a way that can change the outcome of the experiment.

A special case of these two different views will be taken into account; namely the disagreement about the shape bias. The controversy over the role of conceptual learning in early word learning for children has initiated the shape bias controversy; briefly stated it is an implication of the two views outlined above. On the one hand the proponents of the Attentional Learning Account claim that shape bias does not emerge until infants are able to distinguish at least 50 nouns which is in line with the claim they support that conceptual knowledge is only available much later. On the other hand Booth and Waxman have shown with an experiment they conducted with 18 to 22 months old children with vocabulary that does not exceed 18 nouns that these children have extended their uses of words on the basis of shape. This experiment thus interpreted challenges the whole of the Attentional Learning Account proponents.
In a paper in the Developmental Science journal, Booth and Waxman have shown experiments in support of the Attentional Learning Account view and have tried to show that they can be interpreted in a way that does not do any harm to their view ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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