Today I was fortunate enough to attend a lecture by Dr Jeanne Shinskey from Royal Holloway, University of London.
The lecture spoke mainly of Shinskey’s research into object permanence in babies and the symbolic value of pictures and objects. She spoke of how familiarity processing is more common in younger children as their speed of processing is slower than that of older children. Most research focuses on object to real life transfer however, she looked into picture to object transfer. The 7.5 month old babies were shown either a black and white picture or a coloured picture of an object. They were then shown the real life object they had seen in the picture as well as a distractor (another) object. It was noted what object the baby went to grab first. There were two conditions in this experiment. One of which where the objects were shown to the baby and then put in to two clear plastic boxes so that the baby could see both objects and the other where the objects were placed into two boxes where the child could not see the objects. Findings suggested that colour had no impact upon the babies object preference however, changes were noted in the two conditions. In the condition where the baby could see the objects in the clear boxes the babies preferred the novelty object, the object they had not seen a picture of previously. In the hidden box condition however, the babies showed a preference for the object they had seen a picture of. This is perhaps an idea that could be researched in further detail to see why this is the case. Why is it that when the babies can see they objects they prefer novelty, yet when they can’t they prefer familiarity?
Shinskey also spoke about Picture Iconicty. Something I was not familiar of before the lecture. She used the example of childrens books and whether real life pictures or cartoon picture books were more beneficial to young children under the age of 1 in terms of learning. She found that at 15 months real life pictures in child picture books lead to more learning. Furthermore, manipulative features in books actually detract away from learning. She looked at pop up vs non pop up books in particular and found that children learnt more from non pop up books than they did pop up books. Books with flaps are also a challenge and hinder word learning. For babies and young children it is difficult to touch, look AND listen which is why pop up books/flap books are a challenge for young children. A point i had never previously thought about but makes complete sense. However, does the flap effect disappear over time? Young children tend to enjoy reading and re – reading books so as time progresses are they actually learning from picture books as the flaps and pop ups almost become ignored and irrelevant. Perhaps they’re not as bad for the child as previously suggested also, getting children reading, whatever the book may be is never a bad thing!