Date of Award

Fall 1983

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Leslie, Lauren

Second Advisor

Taft, Thomas B.

Third Advisor

Negin, Gary


This study investigated the relative saliency of story structure and of inferential reasoning as memorial strategies for children at the kindergarten and fifth grade age levels. One hundred forty kindergarten and fifth grade children were randomly chosen from two elementary schools in the Kettle Moraine School District to participate in the study. These children heard seven variations of each of two stories. One version was considered well-formed by the story grammarians. Three versions had one of the grammar categories deleted. The deleted categories were Beginning, Reaction, and Outcome. In the final three versions each of the above mentioned story grammar categories was deleted, but its information was directly implied elsewhere in the story, thereby restoring semantic continuity. Each subject heard two stories written in one of the seven variations described above. After hearing the story they were asked to recall it as nearly as possible to the way they heard it. When the recall protocol was complete, they were asked three questions concerning the content of the three grammar categories manipulated in the experiment and their responses were recorded. Subjects heard the stories in counterbalanced order with one story providing for a replication of the other. Number of propositions recalled formed the main dependent variable in the recall analysis for each story. A number of planned comparisons were then conducted to test the main hypotheses. Planned comparisons were also carried out on each of the questions to test the hypotheses associated with that data. Fifth grade children were found to benefit more from the restoration of semantic continuity than kindergarteners. Fifth-graders made consistent and accurate inferences when the necessary information was implied in text. Kindergarteners were also able to utilize inferential reasoning as a memorial strategy, but as effectively or as consistently as the older children. It was also found that stories conforming to the idealized structure represented by the story grammars were better understood and better remembered by both age groups than stories which deviated from that structure.



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