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Do iPads promote symbolic understanding and word learning in children with autism?

Allen ML, Hartley C, Cain K - Front Psychol (2015)

Bottom Line: We also examine the hypothesis that presenting multiple, differently colored, exemplars of a target referent will promote adaptive label generalization compared to the use of a single exemplar.The extent of symbolic understanding did not differ between the two media, and levels of generalization did not differ across conditions.Our findings are discussed in terms of the importance of content to picture-based learning and the potential benefits and challenges of using the Apple iPad as an educational resource for children with ASD.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, Lancaster University, Lancaster UK.

ABSTRACT
The use of the Apple iPad has skyrocketed in educational settings, along with largely unsubstantiated claims of its efficacy for learning and communication in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Here, we examine whether children with ASD are better able to learn new word-referent relations using an iPad or a traditional picture book. We also examine the hypothesis that presenting multiple, differently colored, exemplars of a target referent will promote adaptive label generalization compared to the use of a single exemplar. Sixteen minimally verbal children with ASD were taught a new word in four within-subjects conditions, which varied by media (iPad vs. book) and content (single vs. multiple exemplar presentation). Children were then tested on the ability to symbolically relate the word to a 3-D referent (real-life depicted object) and generalize it to a differently colored category member (another similarly shaped object). The extent of symbolic understanding did not differ between the two media, and levels of generalization did not differ across conditions. However, presentation of multiple exemplars increased the rate that children with ASD extended labels from pictures to depicted objects. Our findings are discussed in terms of the importance of content to picture-based learning and the potential benefits and challenges of using the Apple iPad as an educational resource for children with ASD.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Percentage of symbolic/associative responses in the Mapping Test across all conditions. *p < 0.05.
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Figure 2: Percentage of symbolic/associative responses in the Mapping Test across all conditions. *p < 0.05.

Mentions: The percentage of target picture only, target object only, and both responses for each condition are displayed in Table 1. There were no significant differences between these three response types across conditions. However, this does not tell us whether the children are learning associatively or symbolically because a selection of the object alone or both actually supports symbolic understanding. The next analyses therefore address the two learning styles (associative vs. symbolic) using a chance rate of 50%. When associative and symbolic responses were compared, children only made symbolic responses at above-chance rates in the Book-Multiple, χ2 (1, N = 16) = 4, p = 0.046, and iPad-Multiple conditions, χ2 (1, N = 16) = 9, p = 0.003, suggesting that their understanding of word-picture-object relations was facilitated by multiple exemplars (see Figure 2). When symbolic responses from the two Single conditions were summed and compared to these responses from the two Multiple conditions, a paired t-test revealed a borderline significant difference, t(15) = 2.1, p = 0.055, d = 0.42 (Multiple > Single). Responses from book and iPad trials did not differ. Thus, it appears that children with ASD are more likely to extend labels from pictures to referent objects when multiple exemplars are presented, regardless of the medium of presentation.


Do iPads promote symbolic understanding and word learning in children with autism?

Allen ML, Hartley C, Cain K - Front Psychol (2015)

Percentage of symbolic/associative responses in the Mapping Test across all conditions. *p < 0.05.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4325663&req=5

Figure 2: Percentage of symbolic/associative responses in the Mapping Test across all conditions. *p < 0.05.
Mentions: The percentage of target picture only, target object only, and both responses for each condition are displayed in Table 1. There were no significant differences between these three response types across conditions. However, this does not tell us whether the children are learning associatively or symbolically because a selection of the object alone or both actually supports symbolic understanding. The next analyses therefore address the two learning styles (associative vs. symbolic) using a chance rate of 50%. When associative and symbolic responses were compared, children only made symbolic responses at above-chance rates in the Book-Multiple, χ2 (1, N = 16) = 4, p = 0.046, and iPad-Multiple conditions, χ2 (1, N = 16) = 9, p = 0.003, suggesting that their understanding of word-picture-object relations was facilitated by multiple exemplars (see Figure 2). When symbolic responses from the two Single conditions were summed and compared to these responses from the two Multiple conditions, a paired t-test revealed a borderline significant difference, t(15) = 2.1, p = 0.055, d = 0.42 (Multiple > Single). Responses from book and iPad trials did not differ. Thus, it appears that children with ASD are more likely to extend labels from pictures to referent objects when multiple exemplars are presented, regardless of the medium of presentation.

Bottom Line: We also examine the hypothesis that presenting multiple, differently colored, exemplars of a target referent will promote adaptive label generalization compared to the use of a single exemplar.The extent of symbolic understanding did not differ between the two media, and levels of generalization did not differ across conditions.Our findings are discussed in terms of the importance of content to picture-based learning and the potential benefits and challenges of using the Apple iPad as an educational resource for children with ASD.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, Lancaster University, Lancaster UK.

ABSTRACT
The use of the Apple iPad has skyrocketed in educational settings, along with largely unsubstantiated claims of its efficacy for learning and communication in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Here, we examine whether children with ASD are better able to learn new word-referent relations using an iPad or a traditional picture book. We also examine the hypothesis that presenting multiple, differently colored, exemplars of a target referent will promote adaptive label generalization compared to the use of a single exemplar. Sixteen minimally verbal children with ASD were taught a new word in four within-subjects conditions, which varied by media (iPad vs. book) and content (single vs. multiple exemplar presentation). Children were then tested on the ability to symbolically relate the word to a 3-D referent (real-life depicted object) and generalize it to a differently colored category member (another similarly shaped object). The extent of symbolic understanding did not differ between the two media, and levels of generalization did not differ across conditions. However, presentation of multiple exemplars increased the rate that children with ASD extended labels from pictures to depicted objects. Our findings are discussed in terms of the importance of content to picture-based learning and the potential benefits and challenges of using the Apple iPad as an educational resource for children with ASD.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus