Date of Award

Summer 1991

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Leslie, Lauren

Second Advisor

Taft, Thomas

Third Advisor

Fox, Robert


The purpose of this study was to examine and determine ways to validly assess the prior knowledge of Native American and Caucasian children. Subjects (81 Native American, 80 Caucasian), reading at second grade and fifth grade levels, were drawn from integrated school settings. Each child received a free association prior knowledge assessment and an embellished prior knowledge measure (either a storytelling task or a picture-drawing/ storytelling task) before reading two passages. Following each passage, the comprehension was assessed through explicit and implicit questions and a retelling measure. Results demonstrated a main effect for culture, p<.033, for the free association type of assessment when scored by level of abstraction but no culture effect for the free association task when scored by dependence on comprehension, or for either of the embellished measures. All measures exhibited a main effect for text level. Significant correlations were found in the fifth grade text level group between comprehension and the free association task (p<.01) and comprehension and the storytelling measure (p<.05) for both the native and non-native groups. No significant correlations were found with the second grade text level groups. The results suggest that the free association prior knowledge assessment when scored according to level of abstraction be used with children from the mainstream white culture. The results further suggest that to score the free association task according to its dependence on the comprehension measure or to use the storytelling measure is appropriate in assessing the prior knowledge of both Native American and Caucasian children.



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