Component Processes Involved in Self-Derivation of New Knowledge in 4-Year-Olds Open Access

Hoffmann, Ana Maria (Spring 2019)

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Semantic memory is our repository of knowledge about the world. It expands through direct experiences, such as reading a textbook or attending a lecture, and through productive processes that allow knowledge extension beyond what is directly learned. This research thesis focuses on the productive process of self-derivation of new information through integration of separate, yet related episodes of new learning. This process allows individuals to derive the novel fact that, for instance, pods talk by clicking and squeaking, having learned at one time point that dolphins talk by clicking and squeaking (fact 1), and at a later time dolphins live in groups called pods (fact 2). Past research has found that relative to 6- and 8-year-olds, who self-derive on 67% and 75% of trials, 4-year-olds self-derive only on 13% of the trials (Bauer & Larkina, 2017; Bauer & San Souci, 2010). Based on the ERISS model (Bauer & Varga, 2017), which describes five temporally-staged processes involved in self-derivation, it is hypothesized that 4-year-olds struggle to reactivate the first fact upon encoding the second, and subsequently fail to form an integrated representation. Accordingly, in the present research the researcher sought to facilitate reactivation by having 4-year-olds recall the episodes immediately prior to the self-derivation test. Twenty-four 4-year-olds (14 female; mean age = 4.4 years) participated and were randomly assigned to either one of two conditions, Stem-Prime or No-Prime condition. All children were read 3 pairs of story passages; each story contained a novel fact (stem fact). The stem facts within a pair could be combined to generate an integration fact. Each story pair was read twice: Story1-Story2, Story1-Story2. Before the self-derivation test, children in the Stem-Prime condition were asked to recall the stem facts. Children in the No-Prime condition were asked to recall non-stem, story details. Contrary to our hypothesis, children’s self-derivation performance did not differ based on the Stem-Prime manipulation. Yet performance was more than twice as high as observed in prior research with 4-year-olds (31% compared to 13%).

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Background. 1

Self-derivation and Developmental Change. 1

Component Processes involved in Self-derivation. 2

The Role of Reactivation in Self-derivation. 5

The Present Study. 6

Method. 9

Participants. 9

Measures. 10

Stimuli 10

Verbal Ability. 11

Procedure. 11

Phase 1: Exposure to Stem and Non-Stem Facts. 11

Phase 2: Test for Recall of Stem and Non-Stem Facts and Self Derivation and Force-choice Selection of Integration Facts. 12

Scoring. 13

Data Analytic Strategy. 14

Results. 15

Preliminary Analysis. 15

Main Analysis. 15

Discussion. 16

Limitations and Future Directions. 20

Conclusion. 21

References. 22

Figure 1. 24

Appendix A.. 25

Appendix B. 26

Appendix C.. 27

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