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Alycia Hund

Mentor Department



Language is an important aspect of child development. When it comes to numbers, children first learn lists of numbers then give those words meaning (Slusser, Ditta, & Sarnecka, 2013). The more numbers children know, the greater their comprehension of ordinal orders (Brannon & Van de Walle, 2001). When a child is more familiar with ordinal labels, it helps with problem solving skills (Miller, Marcovitch, Boseovski, & Lewowicz, 2015). As for spatial language, it improves from 3- to 5-years (Hund, Bianchi, Winner, & Hesson-Mcinnis, 2017). Our objective was to specify the developmental trajectory of cardinal, ordinal, and spatial language comprehension and production for 3- to 5-year old children. Children were randomly assigned to either the Tell Me or Give Me condition, and all the children in either condition completed cardinal, spatial, and ordinal trials. The cardinal order can be defined as a numeric, such as one or three. The spatial order can be defined as the location of a person or object, such as front, middle, or back. The ordinal order can be defined as sequential numerical, such as first or third. In the Tell Me condition, the children were asked to tell the researcher where a randomly assigned labelled car was located (testing language production); whereas, in the Give Me condition, the children were asked to put a labelled car(s) in the garage (testing language comprehension). To date, 33 children have participated. As predicted, preliminary analyses revealed that there were significant improvements across development in cardinal, ordinal, and spatial language. In addition, the Give Me group performed higher than the Tell Me group for 4-year-olds, suggesting comprehension may be easier than production. Children were more successful with cardinal labels than with ordinal labels, with spatial labels being intermediate. Once completed, the results of this study may be helpful in academic and home settings,perhaps to increase exposure to complex language to facilitate developmental success.


Authors: Rebecca Bove, Taiz Garcia, Jazmin Lozada, Michaela Pierson, Abbey Warwick, Jessica Rothman, Lucy Okrasinski, Jackie Diaz, Caroline Signa

The Development of Cardinal, Ordinal, and Spatial Language in Young Children

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