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Effect of maternal education on Turkish mothers' styles of reminiscing with their children

Aylin C. Küntay, Banu Ahtam
2004; 19(54):19-35

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This study investigates the relationship of maternal education to the style of mother-child conversations about past events. Previous research conducted in the US has identified two distinct styles of communication that mothers use to elicit talk about past events from their children (i.e., elaborative style and repetitive style), but the relationship of these patterns of talk to mothers? education level has not been investigated. In this study, we recorded 22 mother-child pairs. Of these, half included mothers of high educational background, and the other half had mothers of low educational background. Mothers? child-directed utterances were coded in terms of their forms, contents, and relationships to the child?s responses. Results show that high-education mothers addressed more utterances per event to their children than low-education mothers. Also, child-directed speech of high-education mothers tended to be more elaborative and less repetitive than the speech of low-education mothers. One major contributor to this overall difference was that high-education mothers offered more elaborative statements than low-education mothers. The proportions of questioning behavior, on the other hand, were the same across the two groups of mothers. The pattern of differences found in the study could be explained by the longer exposure of high-education mothers to "classroom discourse" in addition to the potential facilitative effects of schooling on their communicative and narrative skills.



Keywords: Autobiographical narrative, mother-child conversations, maternal educational level