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Access Type

Campus Access

Document Type


Degree Program

Communication Disorders

Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Word learning, Function, Toddler


The aim of this study was to examine how providing functional information affects three year olds’ word learning. Previous work has demonstrated that children use perceptual or functional information about an object to aid in word learning. That is, they tend to base word meaning on the shape of the item (e.g., Jones, Smith, & Landau, 1991) or on its function (e.g., Kemler-Nelson et al, 2000). The authors asked whether there were additive effects of functional and perceptual cues on word learning and generalization,either immediately after training, or one to two days later. Thirteen typically developing children were taught four novel words in a play paradigm. They were provided with functional and perceptual information for two of the objects, and given perceptual information only for the other two. The children were exposed to multiple exemplars of each object taught, and allowed to manipulate the items. The children were tested for receptive and expressive knowledge of the words seven to eleven minutes after teaching, and one to two days later.Children did not perform better than chance levels on receptive tasks in any condition, nor did they perform above floor levels on expressive tasks. It is concluded that additional functional information does not enhance word learning for young children in this paradigm.


First Advisor

Gwyneth Campbell Rost