a1 University of Waterloo
Three- and four-year-olds participated in a referential communication task wherein they requested stickers from a knowledgeable or ignorant adult to complete a card. Following inadequate initial requests children were provided with three different feedback types: goal substitution (i.e. an incorrect sticker was provided), explicit statement of misunderstanding (‘I don't know which one you mean’), and vague feedback (‘Huh?’). Preschoolers' initial statements revealed sensitivity to the listener's perspective: more descriptors were provided when the listener did not have visual access to the card. Although listener's knowledge did not affect children's repair statements following feedback, the feedback type did: goal substitution elicited more repairs that included new descriptors, whereas vague responses elicited more repetition of initial requests than other feedback types. Children's age and verbal skills were related to the specific repair strategies used. Results demonstrate that preschoolers' use of cues from a conversational partner depends on the type of communicative task.
(Received September 23 2010)
(Revised April 17 2011)
(Accepted September 15 2011)
(Online publication December 08 2011)
c1 Address for correspondence: Elizabeth Nilsen, Psychology Department, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1. tel: 519-888-4567 x33991; fax: 519-746-8631; e-mail: email@example.com
[*] This research was supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Standard Research Grant awarded to EN. We thank the students and staff at the Early Childhood Education Centre at the University of Waterloo, as well as parents and children from the community, who participated in the study. The authors also thank Melissa Grubb for her assistance with data collection.