Pre-existing Background Knowledge Influences Socioeconomic Differences in Preschoolers’ Word Learning and Comprehension

Tanya Kaefer, Susan B. Neuman, Ashley M. Pinkham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The goal of the current study is to explore the influence of knowledge on socioeconomic discrepancies in word learning and comprehension. After establishing socioeconomic differences in background knowledge (Study 1), the authors presented children with a storybook that incorporates this knowledge (Study 2). Results indicated that middle-income children learned significantly more words and comprehended the story better than lower-income children. By contrast, Study 3 presented children with a novel category and found that children performed equally in their word learning and comprehension. This suggests that socioeconomic differences in vocabulary and comprehension skills may be partially explained by differences in extant knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-231
Number of pages29
JournalReading Psychology
Volume36
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 3 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language

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