Training Track: Developmental
Advisor: Elizabeth Wakefield, Ph.D.
Office: Coffey Hall LL24
Master's Thesis Title:
Using Eye Tracking to Understand How Gesture and Inhibitory Control Influence Children's Analogical Reasoning Ability
Master's Thesis Abstract:
This study examines whether gesture, movement of the hands that can represent information and direct attention, can serve as a tool to support 4- and 5-year old children's analogical reasoning - a challenging task for young children. Along with addressing whether gesture facilitates analogical reasoning, we consider how gesture shapes learning using eye-tracking. We hypothesize that gesture may support analogical reasoning because it has been shown to direct attention in a beneficial way during problem solving, and therefore, should promote visual attention patterns associated with increased inhibitory control. We consider how visual attention might index children's inhibitory control during analogical reasoning problem solving, and whether providing instruction with gesture can encourage a similar, more mature, way of allocating visual attention during problem solving. Results show that children with greater inhibitory control have more effective looking patterns and have superior performance. Both gesture and speech instruction support improvements in behavioral accuracy, but gesture instruction encourages more mature looking patterns. After instruction all children shown small, but significant gains pretest to port-test. These findings have implications for how gesture can be used instructionally in an analogical reasoning domain.
Masters Thesis Committee Members :
Committee Chair: Dr. Elizabeth Wakefield
Committee Members: Dr. Catherine Haden & Dr. Robert Morrison