THE EFFECTS OF SYNTACTIC COMPLEXITY ON THE LISTENING AND READING COMPREHENSION OF LANGUAGE DISORDERED CHILDREN
A follow-up study of children diagnosed as language disorder during the preschool years was conducted to test the validity of two theoretical perspectives, neuropsychological and linguistic. Based on neuropsychological theory, it was predicted that there would be two distinct groups of language disordered children who would perform differently on both sentence repetition and story comprehension tasks when the method of task assessment was non-oral rather than oral. While the oral/non-oral predictions were not upheld, the validity of two separate groups of language disordered children was demonstrated. Based on linguistic theory, it was predicted that both groups of language disordered children would perform similarly to average children when sentence and stories were composed in simple (active-declarative) syntax. Conversely, it was predicted that complex (passive) syntax would differentiate language disordered from normal children. While an interaction of syntactic complexity by groups was not upheld, this study did support other linguistic research which has shown that language disordered children produce fewer grammatical morphemes than average children. Futhermore, it was predicted that the performance of all children on the sentence repetition and story comprehension tasks would be a function of their Verbal IQs, but not their Performance IQs. Both predictions about IQ were upheld. Finally, it was predicted that the listening condition for sentence and story tasks would be significantly easier for all children than the reading condition. This prediction was upheld for sentence repetition, but not for story comprehension tasks. It was speculated that isolated sentences represent syntactically more demanding tasks than stories composed in predictable story grammars. In the present study, both groups of language disordered children exhibited more difficulty on sentence repetition than average children. Conversely, expressive-only children performed similarly to average children on story comprehension where it appeared that they were able to compensate for their syntactic deficits by utilizing their concept of story grammar to aid recall.
MARY ELIZABETH HALPIN,
"THE EFFECTS OF SYNTACTIC COMPLEXITY ON THE LISTENING AND READING COMPREHENSION OF LANGUAGE DISORDERED CHILDREN"
(January 1, 1983).
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