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The roles of seeing and doing in communicative development: new insights into attention and movement from microanalytic and microgenetic methods

Ellis-Davies, Katherine 2012. The roles of seeing and doing in communicative development: new insights into attention and movement from microanalytic and microgenetic methods. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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The aim of this thesis is to extend the understanding of early communication development through the design and implementation of methods, which enable close examination of developmental change as it happens. I pose that meaningful distinctions of infant’s attentional abilities, and preferences, in the early period of infancy are necessary and valuable for understanding the ontogeny of communication. Chapter 2 describes the First Steps longitudinal study, where the work of this thesis took place. Chapter 3 describes an adaptation to a coding scheme that allows for new advances in understanding of early infant’s attention abilities and preferences for social and non-social stimuli. Results show that by 2-months infants demonstrate group levels of engagement, as well as notable individual differences in time spent attending to mother’s faces and hand actions. Chapter 4 further demonstrates the value of the methodological adaptation described in Chapter 3, by assessing the predictive power individual differences shown in attention at 2-months hold for the emergence of social attention at 5-months. Results show that individual differences in infant attention to the social stimuli of faces and hands, demonstrated at 2 months with the adapted engagement coding scheme, differentially predict the social attention skills of attention following. Chapter 5 further extends the relations found in Chapter 4, by examining the relation between point following at the end of the first year and the proclivity to attend to hands, during interactions, at 18- months. Results show infants’ point following performance at 12-months predicts later durations of attention to hands, while playing with mothers at 18- months. In this thesis I argue that infant communication development cannot be understood from examining one domain, as infant’s employ multiple domains in the journey to communication. Secondly I argue that detailed observations following a multi-domain approach, offer significant potential for understanding communicative development. Chapter 6 details the design, application and assessment of the continuous unified electronic (CUE) diary method. Results show that the CUE diary method is reliable and valid method for the study of infant development. Chapter 7 utilizes the CUE diary method to examine whether the emergence of independent walking predicts later productive vocabulary. Results show that walking is a unique gross motor predictor of later vocabulary. Further, when entered into a predictive model for language, walking and pointing deliver independent predictive power, with walking demonstrating as strong an association as pointing. Taken together, these observational, experimental, parent-report and electronic diary methods demonstrate the advances in understanding communicative development that can be made when sensitive methods are applied across periods and domains of developmental change.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 23:19

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