PhD defence Anika van der Klis: The effects of caregiver-child interactions on vocabulary development


On 8 March, Anika van der Klis will defend her PhD dissertation ‘Caregiver-infant Interactions and Child Vocabulary’.

YOUth study

In her dissertation, Van der Klis explores the possibility of predicting variation in Dutch children’s vocabulary size. To find out, she used data from the large-scale YOUth cohort study, where children in the province Utrecht were followed from pregnancy to adulthood. She takes a dyadic approach to study the effects of verbal, non-verbal, and multimodal behaviour during caregiver-infant interactions.

Multimodal interactions

Studying the multimodal (both verbal and non-verbal) nature of early caregiver-infant interactions creates a more complete picture of children’s learning environments, Van der Klis notes, which brings us closer to solving the puzzle of children’s vocabulary development.

For example, one of the findings from Van der Klis’ research is that infants’ gestures are important indicators of vocabulary outcomes. Pointing, showing, and giving gestures from babies and children have a positive influence on the vocabulary outcome, but only when they elicited multimodal responses from caregivers during early interactions.

Start date and time
End date and time
Hybrid: online (click here) and at the Utrecht University Hall
PhD candidate
A. van der Klis
Caregiver-infant Interactions and Child Vocabulary
PhD supervisor(s)
prof. R.W.J. Kager
dr F.W. Adriaans