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Children’s developing conversational and reading inference skills: a call for a collaborative approach

Wilson, E., Cain, K., Davies, C., Gibson, J., Joseph, H. ORCID:, Serratrice, L. ORCID: and Vogelzang, M. (2023) Children’s developing conversational and reading inference skills: a call for a collaborative approach. Language Development Research. ISSN 2771-7976 (In Press)

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In this perspectives article, we call for a collaborative approach to research on children’s development of conversational inferences and of reading inferences. Despite the clear commonalities in their focus, the two rich research traditions have remained almost entirely separate, primarily within the fields of Developmental Psychology and Experimental Pragmatics, on the one hand, and Cognitive, Developmental and Educational Psychology on the other. We briefly survey research on conversational and reading inferences, and show how both similarities and differences in theoretical approach, methodologies and findings raise significant questions, including: What effect does both context (conversation or reading) and modality (oral, visual, written) have on the need for children to make inferences, and for the opportunities for them to learn to do so? And how do linguistic and background knowledge, socio-cognitive and environmental factors support different inferences across contexts and modalities? We propose that a collaborative agenda is timely and crucial for interdisciplinary work. Researchers need to develop theoretical models of how different types of inference cluster together and are supported or affected by the context, modality, and other linguistic, socio-cognitive and environmental factors. They must also develop methodologies which enable reliable and valid measures of inferencing ability that can capture quantitative and qualitative changes across development. Ultimately this will contribute to better understanding of children’s pragmatic development, as well as teaching and intervention practices in communication and reading comprehension.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM)
Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Clinical Language Sciences
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education > Language and Literacy in Education
ID Code:114330
Publisher:Carnegie Mellon University

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