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A Longitudinal Study of the Development of Elementary School Children's Private Speech

Jennifer A. Bivens and Laura E. Berk
Merrill-Palmer Quarterly
Vol. 36, No. 4 (October 1990), pp. 443-463
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23087309
Page Count: 21
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A Longitudinal Study of the Development of Elementary School Children's Private Speech
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Abstract

Vygotskian predictions about the development of private speech and its relationship to behavioral accompaniment to task, attention, and task performance were examined in a 3-year longitudinal study. Thirty-three children were observed in their classrooms during first, second, and third grade while they worked on math seatwork. In agreement with Vygotsky's theory, private speech moved from externalized to more internalized task relevant forms over the early elementary school years. Although task-relevant private speech was largely unrelated to concurrent measures of task performance (math achievement), it showed positive relationships with performance in the year following observation, findings which suggest that its facilitating impact on children's learning is not always immediate and takes time to accumulate. Consistent with Vygotsky's belief that private speech promotes effective task-related behavior, individual trajectories of private speech development were paralleled by similar changes in behavioral self-control and attentiveness to seatwork tasks over the early elementary school years.

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