Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Moral Theme Comprehension in Children: Assessing Developmental Change in a Component Model
by Marle, Peter D., Ph.D., Saint Louis University, 2018, 170; 10817069
Abstract (Summary)

Elementary school children have been noted to struggle with comprehending the theme of moral stories. This issue extends beyond just moral theme comprehension, though, as moral stories are considered a type of narrative text—which has been studied extensively in the general reading comprehension literature. Within this research literature, reading comprehension is considered a complex and dynamic multi-component system in which lower- and higher-level factors interact to allow readers to extract meaning from a text. Using a comprehension model of lower- and higher- cognitive factors, moral theme comprehension in children between the ages of 7 and 10 years was examined. In particular, reading comprehension factors (i.e., story schemas, comprehension monitoring, and inferential ability), as well as three other factors hypothesized to relate to moral theme comprehension (i.e., perspective-taking, moral aptitude, and figurative language) were used to assess developmental differences in the comprehension of moral stories. A total of 176 students from grades 2 through 4 from a local, private elementary school were given two sets of moral theme comprehension assessments by their teachers, each taking about 20 to 30 minutes to complete. Results suggested that even though children within this age range can identify the moral theme of stories, and distinguish it from the literal message, developmental differences are still evident, especially when asked to distinguish the moral theme from a truism related to the story. In addition, the hypothesized moral theme factors were found to be predictive of theme comprehension, after controlling for the reading comprehension factors. The results of this study set the framework for future investigation into developmental differences of moral theme comprehension.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Sokol, Bryan W.
Commitee: Kellogg, Ronald T., Kuebli, Janet E.
School: Saint Louis University
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- Missouri
Source: DAI-B 79/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Elementary education, Educational psychology, Developmental psychology
Keywords: Cognitive development, Moral development, Moral theme comprehension, Reading comprehension
Publication Number: 10817069
ISBN: 978-0-438-12770-8
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