Communication between mothers and their emergent-language children : a longitudinal study

Messer, Julie Patricia (1992) Communication between mothers and their emergent-language children : a longitudinal study. Doctoral thesis, London Guildhall University.


This thesis focuses its examination on the communication in the mother-child interaction over a year. Interactions between eight mothers and their children from child age eight to eighteen months were video-recorded at five week intervals throughout the year of investigation. The study sought to develop and apply an instrument for a parallel analysis Incorporating communicative, 'manual’ and metamessage categories. The results revealed a useful descriptive analysis of the communication over the year as well as evaluating the new instrument. It was found that the ratio of total mother to child categories was essentially consistent across time; change was revealed over categories; for certain categories mother use of categories correlated with child use of categories; mothers emerged as either more monologic or more dialogic, differing in terms of their category use. Measures were taken not just of frequencies of categories but also of patterns of conversation. At child age 8 months, the conversations of 75% of dyads were characterised by Mother Bids for Attention and Child Responses. At child age 18 months, the conversations of over 60% of dyads were characterised by Mother Assertions and Requests and Child Assertions. The new Category Analysis Tool was found to be efficient and useful. A discussion of possible amendments and improvements was undertaken.

A main emphasis of this study is that the research was longitudinal, measured both sides of the interaction and using the same measures. It did this at the difficult to access social-functional level and assessed both inter- and intra-observer reliability.

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