A new tool for measuring and understanding individual differences in the component processes of young children
Researchers have speculated that the comprehension processes of young children, albeit less sophisticated, are similar to those of older children and adults. Although there is some evidence to suggest that these processes exist in children as young as 5-years old, there is no task available to measure these processes. The purpose of this project was to develop an individual differences measure for 5-year olds that would assess their ability to access and integrate knowledge from long-term memory with new text information, to draw text-based inferences, and to recall new text information. This new measure for 5-year olds was based on Hannon and Daneman's (2001) adult component processes task. However, the new measure used pictures and auditory information appropriate for pre-readers rather than the verbal, written material found in the adult version. Fifty-one 5-year olds and fifteen 7-year olds completed the young children's component processes task and an age-appropriate Gates-MacGinitie comprehension test. Results revealed that 5-year olds' performance was similar to the performance of the 7-year olds on the children's component processes task, which demonstrated that young children do use some of the same higher-level cognitive processes as older children and adults. Performance on the children's component processes task was also related to performance on a comprehension measure. This new measure may be a useful tool for examining the higher-level cognitive processes of younger children and understanding how these processes relate to the development of comprehension.