Metacognition and Learning

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 87–111 | Cite as

Patterns of co-occurring non-verbal behaviour and self-directed speech; a comparison of three methodological approaches

  • Martina Kuvalja
  • Mohini Verma
  • David Whitebread


Self-directed speech – the audible or partially whispered self-talk that children engage in during their daily activities, was proposed by Vygotsky to have a mediating role in the emerging self-regulatory behaviour of young children. Studies with correlational findings tend to lend support to this hypothesis but fail to delineate the real-time temporal interactions between self-directed speech and self-regulatory behaviour. The authors propose the use of lag sequential analysis and t-pattern analysis as useful and complementary methods for detecting significantly recurring patterns of co-occurrence of self-directed speech and non-verbal behaviour (that is either self-regulatory or shows a failure of self-regulation). Furthermore, it is argued that the analysis of these co-occurrences is required to establish the functions of self-directed speech, and to determine in what ways these might be self-regulatory. Illustrative analyses are presented of data from a study comparing the patterns of self-directed speech use during a planning task in typically developing children and matched peers with Specific Language Impairment. The results obtained from t-pattern analysis reveal qualitative differences between these two groups of children, in their use of self-directed speech, which were not detected by the other two methods. Implications of examining recurring temporal patterns in behaviour for research investigating aspects of development, particularly self-regulation, are discussed.


Self-directed speech Private speech Self-regulation Specific Language Impairment (SLI) Temporal pattern T-pattern analysis 



This research was supported by two PhD studentships funded by the Cambridge Overseas Trust and the LEGO® Learning Institute.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martina Kuvalja
    • 1
  • Mohini Verma
    • 1
  • David Whitebread
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of EducationUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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