Academic journal article The Psychological Record

Kanji Writing Acquisition through Sequential Stimulus Pairing in Japanese Students with Writing Difficulties

Academic journal article The Psychological Record

Kanji Writing Acquisition through Sequential Stimulus Pairing in Japanese Students with Writing Difficulties

Article excerpt

Japanese students typically learn three different sets of letters: Hiragana and Katakana, which are both Japanese phonograms, and Kanji, which is Japanese ideograms. Hiragana and Katakana letters have point-to-point correspondence between letters and sounds (e.g., [phrase omitted] is only pronounced //a//). Each part of the stimulus controls a part of the spoken response, but each letter does not necessarily correspond to a single meaning. On the other hand, most Kanji letters have no specific sound correspondence (e.g., [phrase omitted] (oil) can be pronounced either //abura// or //yu// depending upon the sentence context). Although it is often difficult to identify the specific parts of the letter that stand for each spoken sound, many Kanji letters have specific meanings. Further, many Kanji words can be divided into two parts (left and right or top and bottom), and these parts sometimes have point-to-point correspondence between parts and sounds (e.g., [phrase omitted], the right part of [phrase omitted], can be pronounced //yu//). Therefore, in order to learn Kanji writing skills, it is necessary to acquire the stimulus relations among letters, spoken sounds, and meanings (Sidman, 2000), together with observation of the stimulus, fluent hand movements, and accurate placement of each letter (Fuentes, Mostofsky, & Bastian, 2009; Graham & Weintraub, 1996; Vuijk, Hartman, Mombarg, Scherder, & Visscher, 2011).

The matching-to-sample (MTS; Omori, Sugasawara, & Yamamoto, 2011; Yamamoto & Shimizu, 2001) and constructional response matching-to-sample (CRMTS; Omori et al., 2011; Sugasawara & Yamamoto, 2009) procedures are often used to help Japanese students with developmental disabilities acquire stimulus relations and reading and writing skills. In both procedures, a sample stimulus (e.g., a picture of a rock or the spoken sound //iwa//) is presented. In the MTS procedure, participants are instructed to choose a corresponding comparison stimulus (e.g., Kanji word, [phrase omitted]//iwa//(rock)) from multiple choices, whereas in the CRMTS procedure, they are instructed to choose the parts or components of a corresponding comparison stimulus in the correct order (e.g., choosing ill (top part) and [phrase omitted] (bottom part) in a sequence to construct the word [phrase omitted] //iwa//(rock)). However, during a selection procedure that requires choosing or constructing the correct stimulus, individuals sometimes make errors because it is often difficult for them to observe and attend to the multiple visual stimuli (Dube et al., 2010; Dube & Mcllvane, 1999; Serna, Dube, & McIlvane, 1997).

Japanese students often find it more difficult to write Kanji than Hiragana and Katakana words because of the visual complexity of the Kanji letters (Sato, 1997; Tamaoka & Kiyama, 2013). Poor observing can lead to unusually restricted stimulus control (Ploog, 2010), such as stimulus overselectivity (Dube & Mcllvane, 1999), a phenomenon in which individuals respond only to a part of the stimulus. Tamaoka and Kiyama (2013) showed that increasing the visual complexity or the number of strokes in Kanji led to poor observing of the Kanji letters. With inadequate observing, individuals make errors in placing Kanji parts accurately, producing mirror writing or retrography (Sato, 1997; Suzuki et al., 2010). For example, when the individual is instructed to write the Kanji word [phrase omitted] //hashira// (pole), he/she writes [phrase omitted], with the parts reversed. Retrography has been attributed to a deficit of visual attention (Orton, 1925) and is often accompanied by spatial, directional, and temporal confusion (Schott, 2007). Retrographic responding is an example of restricted stimulus control, in which the response is controlled only by the shape, and not by the location, of the parts of Kanji words. If the Kanji writing response is correct, it should be controlled by both the shape and the location. …

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