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ERIC Number: ED552697
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 107
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2679-8234-6
The Effect of Grammatical Complexity on the Social-Pragmatic Performance of Preschool Children with Specific Language Impairment
Kurtz, Robert M.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Purdue University
A growing body of research in the past two decades has focused on the development of pragmatics in children with specific language impairment (SLI). This population has been shown to experience difficulty with social interaction compared to their typically-developing peers. However, research has not conclusively established whether this is due to an actual deficit in conversational pragmatics, or whether their difficulty with expressive and/or receptive language disrupts their ability to interact appropriately in social settings. This study employed two experimental tasks to test the ability of children with SLI to extrapolate information not explicitly stated to interpret the meaning of an utterance. To avoid the potential confounding effect of increasing both grammatical complexity and the complexity of contextual processing, the complexity of contextual processing was held constant while grammatical complexity was varied independently. Eleven children with SLI, aged 49-69 months, were asked questions about situations portrayed in pictures and short puppet shows; responding appropriately to these questions required participants to extrapolate information not explicitly stated but available based on contextual cues. Some stimulus items were presented using low grammatical complexity (active construction) and some using high complexity (passive construction). The responses of the children with SLI were compared to those of children in two control groups. The first control group consisted of 10 children with typically developing language skills matched for age (48-69 months); the second consisted of seven younger (age 36-46 months) children with typically developing language. Results of the study did not conclusively support or refute the hypothesis that pragmatic competence is linked to linguistic development rather than general cognitive maturation. Children with SLI performed with lower accuracy than their typically developing peers on tasks involving both low and high grammatical complexity. However, their response patterns were dissimilar similar to the younger control group of typically developing children matched for language level. These findings suggest that children with SLI may possess age-appropriate pragmatic skills, but experience difficulty applying these skills in situations requiring them to do so while simultaneously processing linguistic information, either expressively or receptively. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Preschool Education; Early Childhood Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A