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A Critical Review on Watkins & Thompson’s Research on British Sign Language

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Communication is a key foundation for life. Consequently, the effort of members of British society to create a world in which everyone could communicate regardless of his physical inabilities triggered the creation of British Sign Language (BSL). The language is specifically meant for the deaf and the mute in the country. Although some scholars have concluded that early users of sign language in the United Kingdom utilized dactylology in the 16th century and the centuries that preceded it, British sign language was created in the eighteenth century. One of the greatest changes that the language has been experiencing is a contrast in sign comprehension and sign production. Research psychologists have been working to advance the language by bridging the gap between fingerspelling and lip-reading. For instance, Freya Watkins, Robin L. Thompson devolved into the aforementioned aspect in “The relationship between sign production and sign comprehension: What handedness reveals.” The research has been progressive, but the major challenge is comprehending its credibility. As a result, analysis delves into the aspects of credible research like its background, its aims, and content and how well it meets them. It also delves into how the aspects can be improved.

The masterpiece of the two scholars delves into hand configuration and visual dominance. Its primary focus is the correlation between the production of signs and understanding of the signs with the former being the independent variable and the latter being the dependent variable. The primary hypothesis of the study is that a difference should exist between right hand and left-hand signers during the processing of the motor feedback, which occurs in the process of comprehension, regardless of the signs of processing that the two subjects use. Despite this, it had two other hypotheses (Watkins & Thompson, 2017). The first one is if most of the subjects of the research posted excellent performance to right-hand signers, a frequency effect would account for this result in sign comprehension. The second one states that if the performance when there is congruency outshined the Right-Hand Sign, it would highlight the active role of the production system in comprehension.

In so doing it focused on drawing its results from hand dominance in a picture sign matching task completed by both right-handed signers (RHS) and left-handed signers (LHS). The evidence that the researchers provided supported their hypothesis (Watkins & Thompson, 2017). The natives from both sides, that is right-hand left-hand side signs and non-natives reacted faster when they perceived the right-hand side as compared to the left. Moreover, left-hand signers had a proclivity and posed exceptional performance to congruent handed input something that correlated with the motor speech of perception. The theory proposes that folks perceive phonetic information and gestures which are recognized by specialized distinct systems within the brain that are qualified to detect the articulator’s intended gestures, these form the basis of phonetic categories. The structure contains a various overlapping link between gestures and the auditory patterns. As a result, the unit mediates between the acoustic stimulus and the perception of speech which localizes sound.

The methodology is one of the primary things that can effectuate the research. The researchers used forty-three deaf participant who were fluent in communicating in British sign language. Twenty-one of the subjects were female and twenty-two of them were male. Their average age was thirty- three while their age range was nineteen to fifty-nine. Since the type of hand they utilized matters in acquiring effective results, they divided them into right and left-hand signers. Twenty-six of them were right while the other seventeen were left-handed. They also used the acquisition of the language as characteristics for defining the subjects.

Although all the participants of the research had at least twelve years of exposure, eighteen had acquired it from birth and twelve had been exposed to the British sign language through acquisition. The basic materials that the researchers used to carry out the research are black-and-white line drawings which were in conjunction with British sign language. They also utilized three categories of sign stimuli as follows: 2HA (n = 59), 2HS (n = 80), and 1H (n = 80). After setting up the experiment, the researchers developed the procedure through which they could manifest the results that the hypothesis claimed. The procedure subsumed the participants utilizing the shortest time possible to make an accurate determination of whether a picture followed by a British sign language ideogram referred to the same object. They were to give their answers in a yes and no response by pressing the J and the F keys of a keyboard. The experiment, which began with ten items for practising presented stimuli using g E-Prime 2.0. All the trials that the participants underwent initiated with a fixation cross (400ms). Subsequent was the picture (1000ms) and the sign video.

In the course of the research, the researchers were compelled to discard results from several participants. They excluded three because of the errors that existed in the collection of the data and one due to accuracy issues, that is, the participant’s level of accuracy was below seventy per cent. Based on their findings, the researchers concluded that using the model handedness served as an import indicator of accuracy in the sense that the participants of the study performed exceptionally well in the right-handed model by getting everything right (Watkins & Thompson, 2017). They also considered a comparison of whether the native or non-native model was a factor in the response times of participants in their analysis. In so doing, they concluded that native speakers were quicksilver in their response to right-handed signs, proving the fact that it is a dominant sign because of its prevalence. Research in British Sign language for practically one hundred and sixty years has triggered the conclusion that most of the users of the language were right-handed since they account for seventy per cent of the total population. Despite this. Perelle & Ehrman, 2015 suggested that there is a varying difference in left-handedness between different cultures. Regardless of sign type (1H, 2HA, or 2HS), there is an overall faster retention time in identifying and comprehending right-handed signs. These findings implicate the role of the production system.

The study fulfils various aspects of authentic scientific research. It revealed all the parties that bankrolled it to give its audience the opportunity of analysing whether it was tied to the interests of third parties or not. The funding came from the Birmingham Fellowship award to Robin L. Thompson of the University of Birmingham. It is also a peer-reviewed work that fulfils the principles of scientific research (Tracy, 2013). The fact that it has been peer-reviewed shows that experts in the field of linguistics’, psychology, and education have delved into it and ascertained every aspect of the research. It also follows the typical structure of scientific research following the key components of a research report since psychological research should have a standardized format of writing. The prerequisite of research matters because it establishes strongholds of efficiency in communicating scientific findings to readers. The format also allows the researchers to examine it at several different levels, that is, if a reader requires to re-read the method section it is there as a separate section thus allowing for a continuous flow.

Technically, the research is above average but it is not exempt for improvements. It could be more effective if the researchers utilized multidimensional strategies to arrive at their conclusions. The researchers arrived at their conclusions based on a single test. However, it could be more effective if they considered at least three other methods of arriving at the conclusions because they could have provided them with different perspectives. As a result, they could understand their studies better and discover its invisible limitations; thus, provide comprehensive information, unlike a single strategy that sacrifices the comprehensiveness of information. The research also failed to consider intervening variables, which in most cases affect correlating variables, and it is more general in its methods. Failure to mention or consider the presence of such variables leads to flawed conclusions. Being general does not mean that the hypothesis was not focused; they could make it more specific. Another critique of the research is the authors excluded the results of the participants that had an accuracy of less than 70% from the final data which also hampered comprehensiveness.

Credibility is one of the most significant aspects of research. As a result, an analysis has delved into the intricacies of the aspects of Freya Watkins and Robin L. Thompson’s study on sign language had proven that it was effective. The analysis delved into facets like its background, its aims, and content and how well it meets them. It also delved into how the aspects can be improved. Some of the things that have to be improved include making it more specific and comprehensive and considering intervening variables. Since research is the centre post of burgeoning knowledge and fields of academia, scholars should focus on creating studies that are comprehensive and authentic.

References

  • Miles, M., Huberman, A., & Saldaña, J. (2014). Qualitative data analysis. Thousand Oaks, California, United States: Sage Publications, Inc.
  • Tracy, S. (2013). Qualitative research methods. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.
  • Watkins, F., & Thompson, R. (2017). The relationship between sign production and sign comprehension: What handedness reveals. Cognition, 164, 144-149. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2017.03.019

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A Critical Review On Watkins & Thompson’s Research On British Sign Language. (2021, October 25). GradesFixer. Retrieved November 29, 2021, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-critical-review-on-watkins-thompsons-research-on-british-sign-language/
“A Critical Review On Watkins & Thompson’s Research On British Sign Language.” GradesFixer, 25 Oct. 2021, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-critical-review-on-watkins-thompsons-research-on-british-sign-language/
A Critical Review On Watkins & Thompson’s Research On British Sign Language. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-critical-review-on-watkins-thompsons-research-on-british-sign-language/> [Accessed 29 Nov. 2021].
A Critical Review On Watkins & Thompson’s Research On British Sign Language [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Oct 25 [cited 2021 Nov 29]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-critical-review-on-watkins-thompsons-research-on-british-sign-language/
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