Escudo de la República de Colombia

English

Time taken to identify correct words measured

Evaluating a group of children allowed observing what they do when they read existent words in comparison to nonexistent words (pseudowords) according to their age and schooling degree.

Bogotá D. C., 13 de julio de 2016Agencia de Noticias UN-

The experiment was carried out with 180 elementary school children.

Every child was presented with 40 words including correct and incorrect words.

UNal Department of Linguistics Professor Silvia Baquero Castellanos.

Children from lower grades took more time to answer.

For the youngest children most words may be unknown.

The main goal of this research project was to discover how the lexicality effect is manifested in students; in other words observe how they recognize words before pseudowords and how much time it takes to identify them. 

For this they carried out an experiment with 180 between second and fifth grade elementary students, taking 25 students per grade. The test was performed individually in a silent and calm room. 

Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) Department of Linguistics Professor Silvia Baquero said that each student read from a computer display a series of letters which could be words or pseudowords and immediately decided if they were or were not words pressing on a YES or NO key once. 

Pseudowords are defined as a combination of letters which complies with phonologic and spelling rules but do not really have a meaning, for example the word (in Spanish) riloj

According to Baquero the participants were children so they looked for an easy way to explain the activity. They were not spoken in terms of words or pseudowords but of real or invented words. 

Every session lasted for 15 minutes. Each participant read the same amount of terms and the reaction times (time to press the button after reading each item) was measured in milliseconds. Mistakes were also recorded. 

Analyzing the reaction times revealed that words were replied to by students on an average of 318 milliseconds (ms) faster than pseudowords. 

As the schooling level increased the reaction times diminished. Therefore second graders took, on average 1719 ms, while fifth graders just 1351 ms. 

“They always replied faster to words and took more time to reject pseudowords. Furthermore the error percentage diminished as the schooling grade increased,” said the researcher. 

However despite last graders had fewer mistakes in identifying words they failed more in identifying pseudowords, although their reading was faster and accurate. 

The test was also carried out with a group of adults with the purpose of determining with greater accuracy, if the results were due to characteristics of the test or to the age of the participants. 

45 UNal students (26 women and 19 men) with an average age of 23 years participated in the activity, all Spanish speakers. 

On average adults replied 200 milliseconds faster to words than to pseudowords and the error percentage was only 3.9%. 

Among the conclusions is that the students to perform the activity associated phonemes similar to words and with this information they exhausted the lexicon (their mental dictionary) concluding if the three letter chain was effectively a word. However this search had greater identification times and usually greater error rates, mainly in the first grades. 

The research project enabled observing how lexicality effects evolve according to age and schooling stage; the adult group established the main differences and similarities between children and adults. 

UNal M.Sc. Alba Gallo and Universidad del Rosario Medicine and Health Sciences professor also authored this research project which is part of a study entitled, “Lexical processing in Colombian school children”. 

The topic of the project is within the UNal Cognitive Linguistic Processing in Normal and Special Populations research line of the UNal Infant Cognition and Language Research Group.  

(Por: Fin/VC/DMH/APBL
)
N.° 96

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