• Negotiating Complexity: A Bioecological Systems Perspective on Literacy Development

      Jaeger, Elizabeth L.; College of Education, University of Arizona (Karger, 2016)
      Background/Aims: Urie Bronfenbrenner's bioecological systems model is well regarded in the field of child development. Although this model is not commonly used by literacy researchers, I argue that Bronfenbrenner's emphasis on the roles of personal characteristics, proximal processes, contextual systems, and historical time has explanatory power in the area of literacy. Methods: I review this body of literature and describe a visual representation that clarifies the relevant aspects of the theory. Results: Adoption of Bronfenbrenner's model increases the likelihood that literacy development will be understood as occurring at the site of transaction between cognitive processes and social practices. Literacy researchers who have applied this theory differ in the degree to which they have attended to Bronfenbrenner's guidance relative to adequate research practice and, as such, findings from this research range from less to more theoretically sound and useful. Conclusion: As contemporary literacy researchers consider employing Bronfenbrenner's theory to frame their work, it is necessary for them to account for all aspects of his rich and complex model.
    • Stress Effects in Vowel Perception as a Function of Language-Specific Vocabulary Patterns

      Warner, Natasha; Cutler, Anne; Department of Linguistics, University of Arizona (Karger, 2017)
      Background/Aims: Evidence from spoken word recognition suggests that for English listeners, distinguishing full versus reduced vowels is important, but discerning stress differences involving the same full vowel (as in mu- from music or museum) is not. In Dutch, in contrast, the latter distinction is important. This difference arises from the relative frequency of unstressed full vowels in the two vocabularies. The goal of this paper is to determine how this difference in the lexicon influences the perception of stressed versus unstressed vowels. Methods: All possible sequences of two segments (diphones) in Dutch and in English were presented to native listeners in gated fragments. We recorded identification performance over time throughout the speech signal. The data were here analysed specifically for patterns in perception of stressed versus unstressed vowels. Results: The data reveal significantly larger stress effects (whereby unstressed vowels are harder to identify than stressed vowels) in English than in Dutch. Both language-specific and shared patterns appear regarding which vowels show stress effects. Conclusion: We explain the larger stress effect in English as reflecting the processing demands caused by the difference in use of unstressed vowels in the lexicon. The larger stress effect in English is due to relative inexperience with processing unstressed full vowels.