Answering questions and explaining answers : a study of Finnish-speaking children
This research explores, within the framework of Relevance Theory, how children’s ability to answer questions and explain their answers develops between the ages of 3 and 9 years. Two hundred and ten normally developing Finnish-speaking children participated in this study. The children were asked questions requiring processing of inferential meanings and routines, and were asked to explain their correct answers to elicit understanding about their awareness of how they had derived the answers from the context. The results indicated that the number of correct answers increased rapidly between the ages of 3 years and 4–5 years. Familiarity of context had a significant effect on young children’s ability to answer questions. Becoming aware of the information used in inferencing developed gradually over time between the ages of 3 and 9. Analysis of the children’s incorrect answers and explanations showed that, as children develop, their unsophisticated answer strategies diminish and they increasingly utilize context even in incorrect answers and explanations.