Assessing the Microstructure of Written Language Using a Retelling Paradigm Purpose The primary goal of this study was to document the progression of the microstructural elements of written language in children at 4 grade levels. The secondary purpose was to ascertain whether the variables selected for examination could be classified into valid categories that reflect the multidimensional nature of writing. ... Research Article
Research Article  |   May 01, 2008
Assessing the Microstructure of Written Language Using a Retelling Paradigm
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Cynthia S. Puranik
    University of Florida, Gainesville
  • Linda J. Lombardino
    University of Florida, Gainesville
  • Lori J. P. Altmann
    University of Florida, Gainesville
  • Contact author: Cynthia S. Puranik, Florida Center for Reading Research, 227 N. Bronough Street, Suite 7250, Tallahassee, FL 32301. E-mail: cpuranik@fcrr.org.
Article Information
Development / School-Based Settings / Language Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Research Articles
Research Article   |   May 01, 2008
Assessing the Microstructure of Written Language Using a Retelling Paradigm
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, May 2008, Vol. 17, 107-120. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2008/012)
History: Received December 1, 2006 , Revised March 16, 2007 , Accepted August 15, 2007
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, May 2008, Vol. 17, 107-120. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2008/012)
History: Received December 1, 2006; Revised March 16, 2007; Accepted August 15, 2007
Web of Science® Times Cited: 30

Purpose The primary goal of this study was to document the progression of the microstructural elements of written language in children at 4 grade levels. The secondary purpose was to ascertain whether the variables selected for examination could be classified into valid categories that reflect the multidimensional nature of writing.

Method Written language samples were collected and transcribed from 120 children in Grades 3 through 6 using an expository text-retelling paradigm. Nine variables at various levels of language were analyzed.

Results Using a text-retelling paradigm, measures of productivity (e.g., total number of words and ideas) improved steadily with age, whereas measures of complexity (e.g., mean length of T-unit) did not. Results for measures of accuracy (e.g., spelling and writing conventions) were mixed, with some showing improvement across grades. Grade 3 students showed consistently poorer performance than students in Grades 4, 5, and 6. Grade 4 students showed poorer performance than students in Grades 5 and 6. Exploratory factor analysis suggests that writing can be represented by 3 factors: Productivity, Complexity, and Accuracy.

Conclusions Clinicians can use this multidimensional scheme for examining writing skills using text-retelling formats with children from Grades 3 through 6. This empirically based framework for measuring microstructural variables of writing provides clinicians with a 3-prong conceptual framework for determining children’s strengths and weaknesses within the translational stage of writing.

Acknowledgments
This study was based on a doctoral dissertation conducted by the first author in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a PhD at the University of Florida. Portions of this article were presented at the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading 2006 Annual Conference in Vancouver, Canada, and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association 2006 Annual Convention in Miami Beach, FL. We would like to thank Colleen Murphy for her assistance with this project and the administrators, teachers, students, and parents of Hillsborough County Schools for their generous contributions to this study.
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