The effect of study modality on the overnight learning of word meanings in children

van der Ven, F. , Takashima, A. , Segers, E. , Fernández, G. & Verhoeven, L.

Radboud University Nijmegen

According to the complementary learning systems theory of word learning, novel words are quickly acquired, but slowly integrated into the mental lexicon. In our first study we investigated the effect of study modality on semantic integration in an adult student population. Novel words were studied with either a written or spoken definition. Integration of these words into the semantic lexicon was measured with a primed lexical decision task on two consecutive days, directly after learning and 24 hours later. We observed greater priming effects after 24 hours. Furthermore, priming effects were largest for the written study condition. That is, words learned with a written definition showed more integration than words learned with a spoken definition. However, a university student?s learning environment is typically more text oriented than a child?s learning environment. Would the modality-integration effect also hold for children, who are less expert in reading than adults? In our second study we set out to answer this question by modifying the prior experiment for children in grade 5 and 6. Results will be presented.