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WiNK – Knowledge in the Neighborhood of Kids

WiNK wants to know: How is semantic knowledge organized in children? Is knowledge about thematic relations more relevant than taxonomic relations in children? Is knowledge about thematic relations connected to reading and verbal creativity?

In WiNK we strive to study the development of the thematic knowledge of children. Thematic knowledge is the knowledge about the co-occurrence of objects, persons or concepts. For example, a kite and wind often co-occur. When they do, one can learn a lot about both. How can I fly a kite? How often does the wind change? Kite and wind are thematic neighbors. In contrast, kite and sail are taxonomic neighbors. Even though they look alike and have a similar function, they rarely co-occur. One is often used on land and one on water.

Recent scientific studies suggest that thematic knowledge in particular is important for the early development of conceptual knowledge and might be connected to reading and verbal creativity. In our research project we want to study whether thematic knowledge is organized differently in early and middle childhood as well as adulthood and whether the estimation of thematic knowledge in each age group is connected to reading and verbal creativity.

Project Head

Dr. Alexandra Schmitterer

Selected Publication

Schmitterer, A.M.A., & Schroeder, S. (2019). Young children’s ability to distinguish thematic relations: Development and predictive value for early reading. Cognitive Development, 50, 22-35. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cogdev.2019.01.002