"Abstract Versus Concrete Vocabulary and Gesture for Preschool Children: Comparing Engagement Between Two Highly Similar Educational Songs"
Presenters: Leslie G. Rosales, Tran Bao Hoang, Yucheng Zhu, Poster Presentation
Research Title: Abstract Versus Concrete Vocabulary and Gesture for Preschool Children: Comparing Engagement Between Two Highly Similar Educational Songs
Faculty Advisor: Drew Bailey
Mentor: Robert Kalinowski
Play based activities are important teaching tools in early childhood educational settings. Abstract concepts have been increasingly implicated in the learning of children’s early academic skills, but young children are better at understanding concrete skills. The effectiveness of incorporating abstract concepts into play based activities is not well understood. One way to improve our understanding in this area is to assess the potential to keep children engaged in a play based activity which focuses on abstract, rather than concrete concepts. We coded intervention videos from “The Spatial Song” experiment, in which children (n=80) at a Southern California preschool site were randomly assigned to hear and gesture along either to a song full of spatial vocabulary (abstract content) or a very similar song about adult occupations (concrete content). We coded videos of six of the 13 intervention sessions - three spatial/abstract and three occupational/concrete—operationalizing “engagement” as children singing words and doing gestures. The six videos coded included over 18,000 opportunities to say a target word and over 18,000 opportunities to perform a target gesture, totaled over all children in either condition. Results of cross tabulation show higher rates of singing the target word and higher rates of doing the target gesture for the abstract content group versus the concrete content group. This indicates that children can be engaged in a play based activity with the goal of teaching abstract content, and their level of engagement can be comparable to activities which are similar on their surface but designed to teach concrete knowledge.