CENTENNIAL HONORS COLLEGE Western Illinois University Undergraduate Research Day 2016

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CENTENNIAL HONORS COLLEGE
Western Illinois University
Undergraduate Research Day 2016
PosterPresentation
ExaminingtheDifferencesbetweenConversationalPartnersWhen
AssessingaChild’sLanguageSample
FacultyMentor:StacyBetz
CommunicationSciencesandDisorders
Speech-languagepathologistsassesschildren’slanguageusingstandardizedtestsandlanguagesamples.
Languagesamplesareexamplesofchildren’scommunicationineverydaysituationssuchasplayingwith
toyswhilehavingaconversation.Itisimportanttoassessachild’slanguagewithdifferentpeoplethey
communicatewithduetothedifferencesinachild’sfamiliaritywithsomeone.Thisstudyexaminesthe
complexity of children’s language skills when interacting with a parent versus a researcher during a
languagesample.Elevenchildrenparticipatedinthestudy.Allchildrenweretypicallydeveloping,native
Englishspeakers,andbetween5;0-7;11yearsold.Two10-minuteplaylanguagesampleswerecollected.
Atrainedresearcherobtainedoneofthelanguagesamples.Theothersamplewascollectedfromthe
child’s parent. All samples were transcribed and analyzed according to standard conventions. Findings
showed that a child’s grammatical complexity as measured by MLU (mean length of utterance) was
largerwhentalkingtoaresearchercomparedtoaparent.Resultsindicatedafewpossiblereasonsfor
thisfinding.First,whiletalkingtothechildtheresearcher’sMLUwaslargerthantheparent’s.Second,
parentsaskedmorequestionsthatresultedintheirchildusingone-wordutterances,suchasyesorno.
Overall,
thestudyfoundthatwithaparentasthecommunicationpartneryouwouldgetalongersamplefrom
the child but less complex sentences. This type of sample is not as useful for diagnosing grammatical
impairments. Therefore, when assessing a child’s language, a parent may not be the most effective
communicationpartner.
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