Does it Matter Who is Teaching? Preschoolers’ Learning of Word-Object Mappings from Children and Adults.

Level of Education of Students Involved


Faculty Sponsor

Abbie Thompson


Arts and Sciences



Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 4-27-2023


Children learn language from the individuals in their environment. Research has been conducted about children learning language from different speakers, for example, from different accented speakers (Schmale et al., 2011), from their peers (Perry et al., 2018), and from those they trust (Corriveau et al., 2011), but there is little research on the comparison between children learning from adults and children learning from other children. We know that the language input children and adults use directed to a child is substantially different (Hoff-Ginsberg & Krueger, 1991). Therefore, the current project will assess whether preschool-aged children learn the names for novel objects more effectively when they are presented by another child or by an adult.

To aid our study, we have begun the process of creating a unique database of novel objects to present to preschool-aged participants. By utilizing novel objects, we can assure that participants will be unfamiliar with the names associated with the objects. Participants will be presented with these objects through a video and then will be tested to see how many objects they can identify correctly.

This project will lay a foundation for future research and allow researchers and educators to understand the best learning environment for young children. The knowledge about language development gained in this study has the potential to impact researchers, educators, childcare givers, and parents, as well as the potential to influence the way in which we teach children words in educational settings.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

My name is Mary Beth Mihevc. I am a sophomore psychology and music major at Valparaiso University. I plan to graduate in 2025 and attend graduate school for school psychology. I joined Dr. Thompson’s lab in order to learn more about research in psychology, specifically pertaining to children’s language development.

My name is Melanie Piunti, and I am a sophomore psychology major at Valparaiso University. I plan to graduate in 2025 and pursue graduate school to become a pediatric occupational therapist. I am excited to be a part of Dr. Thompson’s lab as I am interested in understanding and empathizing with the ways that children learn, think, and develop.

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