The role of language in children's formation and retention of mental images



Two studies were conducted to determine the effect of verbalization on the formation and retention of mental images in children in kindergarten, first, and fifth grades. In the first study 51 children were presented a series of tasks designed to determine their ability to represent mental images of cross sections of familiar fruits and to test the hypothesis that self-generated verbalization would aid in image formation. The hypothesis was not confirmed and no significant differences were found to be associated with gender or ability level. Individuals varied widely in the image produced. In the second study 32 subjects from first grade and fifth grade took part. Two treatment groups were formed. One group listened to a verbal description of an unfamiliar fruit, drew a cross section, and gave a description. The other group observed the fruit, then drew it from memory and described it. Both groups were brought back two weeks later and instructed to draw and describe the fruit. Children who had observed the fruit scored higher on drawings immediately and after two weeks; there were no differences between groups on scores of the verbal descriptions. Implications for science teaching are discussed.