Teachers and Laypersons Discern Quality Differences Between Narratives Produced by Children With or Without SLI

Newman, Robyn M.; McGregor, Karla K.
October 2006
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Oct2006, Vol. 49 Issue 5, p1022
Academic Journal
Purpose: To examine the functional impact of specific language impairment (SLI). Specific goals were to determine whether (a) subjective ratings of narrative quality differentiate children with SLI from their normally developing (ND) age-mates, (b) laypersons and teachers differ in their ratings of narrative quality, (c) objective measures confirm previously reported problems in narration among children with SLI, and (d) objective measures of narrative structure and quality ratings relate. Method: Twenty-seven laypersons and 21 teachers used interval scaling to rate the quality of narratives produced by 20 5-7-year-olds, 10 with SLI and 10NDage-mates. The narratives were also analyzed objectively for fluency, length, sentence-level syntax, and story grammar and themes. Results: Subjective ratings differentiated the SLI and ND groups with 70% nonoverlap. No differences were observed between the laypersons' and teachers' numeric ratings; however, laypersons reported that they paid more attention to the "sparkle" or charm of the narratives. Objective measures of story length, grammaticality, and thematic development differentiated SLI and ND groups. Mean length of C-unit and number of thematic units positively predicted quality ratings. Clinical implications: Intervention efforts aimed specifically at improving the quality of these children's oral narration may focus on increasing length, grammatical accuracy, and story development. Future clinical and research efforts aimed at addressing the broader functional impact of SLI are also critical given that the manifestations of SLI are noticeable to both teachers and laypersons.


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