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Joke City and beyond: supporting comprehension improvement through language, gesture and jokes. Nicola Yuill Psychology/Cognitive Science University of Sussex nicolay@sussex.ac.uk www.riddles.sussex.ac.uk. Plan of talk. Causes of poor comprehension Metalinguistic awareness

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Joke city and beyond supporting comprehension improvement through language gesture and jokes l.jpg

Joke City and beyond: supporting comprehension improvement through language, gesture and jokes

Nicola Yuill

Psychology/Cognitive Science

University of Sussex

nicolay@sussex.ac.uk www.riddles.sussex.ac.uk


Plan of talk l.jpg
Plan of talk through language, gesture and jokes

  • Causes of poor comprehension

  • Metalinguistic awareness

  • Aims of intervention

  • Joke City study

  • Language and comprehension gain

  • Gesture and comprehension gain

  • Conclusions and questions


Poor comprehension l.jpg
Poor comprehension through language, gesture and jokes

15% of 580 7-9yr olds had comprehension ages 6-24 mo below reading age

Scores

Vocab: choose 1 of 4 words to match a picture

Neale Accuracy: read words in stories

Neale Comprehension answer questions about the stories


Poor reading comprehension causes l.jpg
Poor reading comprehension: causes through language, gesture and jokes

  • Poor working memory:

    simultaneous storage and processing e.g. mental arithmetic

  • Poor inferential skill:

    John took 5 books. How many books?

    John pedalled over the bridge. How did John travel?

  • Poor ‘language awareness’:

    distinguishing form and meaning, knowing how you know

    (Yuill & Oakhill, 1992)


Language awareness l.jpg
Language awareness through language, gesture and jokes

Treating text as interpreted:

Poor comprehenders:

  • define reading in terms of decoding

    (best reader = read hardest words)

  • have difficulty with deductive inference: How do you know that x....?

  • have poor understanding of jokes that play on meaning (but not that play on sound)


Not just a memory problem knowing how to use knowledge l.jpg
Not just a memory problem… Knowing how to use knowledge through language, gesture and jokes

  • Cain & Oakhill (1999)

    Stories: ‘They set off for home, pedalling as fast as they could.’

    Questions: How did they travel home?

    Poor comprehenders 53% correct

    Prompts: If incorrect:

  • look at story again -> 68%

  • E directs child to relevant part of text ->85%

  • Clue: What sort of things can we pedal? ->100%


Ambiguity resolution problems l.jpg
Ambiguity resolution problems through language, gesture and jokes

48 children, 7-9yrs, varying in comprehension skill:

‘Look at that bat’ (choose 2 of 4 pictures)

‘The man said the duck was ready to eat.’ What could it mean? What else could it mean?

(TLC, Wiig, 1998)

Comprehension skill predicts ambiguity score,

r(46) = .46, p<.001 (w/o acc and age)


Understanding communication l.jpg
Understanding communication through language, gesture and jokes

Ambiguous message game (Robinsons, 1978)

X tells Y: ‘Pick the man with the flag’

Did X tell Y properly? What should X have said?

Comprehension skill predicts message judgement score

r(33) = .49, p<.001 (w/o accuracy and age)

Children with comprehension age under 8;5

scored 6/8 or less


Jokes bahlas yuill george 2000 l.jpg
Jokes (BAHLAS:Yuill & George, 2000) through language, gesture and jokes

50 jokes playing on meanings: choose correct punchline

Why did the leopard never escape from the zoo?

Because it was always spotted/Because it ran too slowly

Tested on 300 children yrs 3-6

Good reliability (.83) and good prediction of comprehension independently of accuracy (r over .6)

(No relation of comprehension and jokes playing on sound:

What room can’t you go into? A mushroom)

BAHLAS Riddles scores


Language awareness and comprehension l.jpg
Language awareness and comprehension through language, gesture and jokes

  • Poor sensitivity to meaning

  • Poor understanding of communication

  • Poor understanding of meaning ambiguity

  • Poor understanding of jokes


Aims of intervention questions l.jpg
Aims of intervention: Questions through language, gesture and jokes

  • Practice: benefits to children, esp. given the neglect of comprehension

  • Process: theoretical understanding of comprehension processes.

    Children lack x, train x, does comprehension improve?

  • Relation of intervention to normal comprehension processes: what should the control conditions be? Why don’t some children develop x naturally? Is x a piece of knowledge or an attitude to reading?


Comprehension training l.jpg
Comprehension training through language, gesture and jokes

  • Some training is very reflective, teaching explicit and metacognitive knowledge and strategies (e.g. Paris)

  • Some work assumes implicit (not directly trainable?) processes (e.g. Gernsbacher, inhibition)

  • MLA seems amenable to training to improve comprehension

  • By encouraging children to have an interrogative attitude to text –how?

    Make it problematic…


Mla training can work l.jpg
MLA training can work: through language, gesture and jokes

  • 1 session of training children to search for ‘clue’ words in deliberately ambiguous texts brings significant comprehension increase on similar texts.

    (Yuill & Joscelyne 1988)

  • 7 30-minute group sessions, riddle training vs ‘funny stories’. Significant comprehension increase for riddle group on standardised test. (Yuill, 1998)

  • 3 25-minute sessions with Joke City software: explaining jokes, requiring children to articulate ambiguity and alternate interpretations of text, sig. better on Neale compr. than control no treatment.

    (Yuill & Bradwell, 1998)


Comprehension skills improve after discussing ambiguity in joking riddles l.jpg
Comprehension skills improve after discussing ambiguity in joking riddles

  • 12 pairs of 7- to 9-year-old children (same sex, one good + one poor)

  • 3 sessions Joke City software

  • 24 control children (no treatment)

  • Transcribed videos of sessions 1 and 3 of 3 x 25-minute sessions for 12 pairs

  • Standardised comprehension test pre- and post-training (2 parallel forms of Neale)

pre- to post-training changes (months) in accuracy and comprehension scores

Individual differences!


Looking at process joke city in more detail l.jpg
Looking at joking riddlesprocess: Joke City in more detail

  • Do children whose comprehension improves talk about different things from children who don’t improve?

  • Does what children talk about change across the training sessions?

  • Do any changes across sessions relate to how much children improve in comprehension? (so is metalinguistic awareness an engine for change?)

  • Does this restaurant serve fish?

  • Yes, what would you like to eat, Mr Fish?


Coding scheme yuill george 2006 l.jpg
Coding scheme (Yuill & George 2006) joking riddles

  • Metacognitive: self, other or joint knowledge or ignorance, thinking aloud

    Aah, I get it! I don’t understand. Do you know? We did it right.

  • Metalinguistic: defining cued or uncued meaning, or both, metalinguistic play and exploration

    Does this restaurant serve fish?’ –‘Yes, what do you want to eat, Mr Fish?’

    ‘serve’: cued meaning = object which is served, uncued meaning = agent to whom food is served. Cued AND uncued at once:

    I get it! Cos they serve fish on a plate and they serve fish to the fish.

  • Control: task management, responses to control:

    Your turn to read

  • Reading from screen

    Does this restaurant serve fish?

    Reliability over 90%


High improvers made more metalinguistic comments than medium or low improvers in session 3 l.jpg
High improvers made more metalinguistic comments than medium or low improvers in Session 3

Interaction of group x session, p<.05.

Mean no. of utterances combining cued and uncued meanings in s3: Hi: 1.25, med: 1.0, lo: 0.13 (lo)

Comprehension change and metalinguistic comments

r (21) = .49, p<.02

Low improvers made more metacognitive comments

Number of utterances in each talk category

Sig. interaction group x talk category, p<.001,

mcog higher for low than med or hi


Examples of cued uncued comments l.jpg
Examples of cued/uncued comments or low improvers in Session 3

  • spotted ‘cos leopards they have spots and it’s cos they get spotted’ (= seen)

  • serve fish ‘he’s a fish and he likes to eat fish’

  • bed socks ‘you wear them to bed and the bed’s wearing them’

  • pinch ‘you can pinch someone on the leg or you can pinch sweets without paying’

  • roll ‘you can roll a sausage roll’

    Hard to articulate…. Other ways to express?


What about gestures l.jpg
What about gestures? or low improvers in Session 3

  • Gestures seem to indicate concepts on the brink of a child’s understanding (Goldin-Meadow, Pine)

  • Mismatches: children who express one idea in speech and another in gesture are more likely to improve on balance beam task than gesture-speech matchers (Pine et al., 2004)

  • Gestures show the listener what the actor understands

  • Perhaps gestures help a child’s own understanding

  • Language ambiguity seems to be a prime example where gestures might be used before speech


Method of coding gestures for joke city l.jpg
Method of coding gestures for Joke City or low improvers in Session 3

  • Collected all clips containing gestures (N=100)

  • Gestures coded as referring to cued (obvious) or uncued (non-obvious) meaning of the joke:

  • How do you make a sausage roll? Push it down a hill?’ roll = ‘pastry’ = cued, ‘rotate’ = uncued

  • Usually clear: adults can recognise which meaning, without sound

  • Number of cued and uncued gestures (counting repeated gestures once only)


Gestures examples l.jpg
Gestures: examples or low improvers in Session 3


Associations of gestures and comprehension measures l.jpg
Associations of gestures and comprehension measures or low improvers in Session 3

  • Tot. no. gestures and pre-test reading comprehension r(20) = .61 cued, .58 uncued

    (r accuracy both <.2, n.s., vocab r .2-.4, n.s., semantic fluency n.s.)

  • Gestures and ambiguous word test, r(20) = .51 (cued), .61 (uncued)

  • Gestures and metalinguistic utterances

No relation of gestures to other talk categories, or to improvement


Book plug l.jpg
Book plug… or low improvers in Session 3

.