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Determinants of auditory-visual integration in elementary school education Kerr, Andrew Stewart


This study was designed to examine a number of factors which might affect the ability to equate auditory and visual non-verbal stimuli as measured by performance on the auditory-visual integration (AVI) test of Birch & Belmont (1964, 1965) and Kahn & Birch (1968) . In this test S is presented with an auditory dot pattern and is required to identify the one of three printed visual dot patterns which is the same as the one heard. Short-term auditory memory, stimulus length and sex differences were studied as possible factors affecting performance on the AVI test. A random selection, from three elementary schools, of 108 third-grade children, 54 males and 54 females, were assigned to one of two groups. Two modified forms of the AVI test defined as the consecutive presentation and the simultaneous presentation, were administered, one to each group of Ss. The first of these tests presented the auditory and visual, stimuli consecutively; that is, the auditory stimulus, after a delay of 5 sec., was followed by three visual stimuli presented one at a time, of which one corresponded to the auditory stimulus. It was proposed that this presentation format would involve short-term auditory memory as a possible factor affecting the judgments of auditory-visual equivalence. The second test presented the auditory and visual stimuli simultaneously as pairs; that is, there was no delay between the auditory and visual stimuli. Each of three visual stimuli was presented simultaneously with the same auditory stimulus. It was assumed that this presentation would eliminate short-term auditory memory as a factor affecting auditory-visual integration competence. It was found that third-grade children were able to process the simultaneous presentation of auditory and visual non-verbal stimuli, at certain stimulus lengths, with more facility than they were when the same stimuli were presented in the consecutive mode. This result supported the hypothesis that there might be a significant short-term auditory memory factor in performance of the AVI test and that this memory component might be significantly related to judgments of auditory-visual equivalence. The position of the visual stimuli was also found to affect the recognition of auditory and visual pairs in the AVI test. The effect, significant though small, occurred for both the consecutive and simultaneous presentations, indicating that interference or decay of sensory processing did occur whether the presentation was consecutive or simultaneous for stimuli in the third position. It was suggested that interference and/or decay in short-term memory, might account for the impaired ability to make correct judgments of auditory-visual equivalence for stimuli in position three as compared to stimuli in positions one and two for the consecutive presentation. The assumption of proactive interference was invoked to account for the occurrence of the same phenomenon in the simultaneous presentation. Another finding indicated that stimulus length per se might not be a significant factor affecting the difficulty of auditory-visual equivalence judgments, but that a factor related to length might be. The results are consistent with a theory of recoding input stimuli and suggest that an increase in the number of units of stimuli to be retained and not the number of stimuli per unit, might be the factor affecting the difficulty level of auditory-visual equivalence judgments. Sex of the children was not found to affect performance on the AVI tests significantly. Further research considerations in the area of AVI were advanced.

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