A Coding System for Describing Conversational Breakdowns in Preschool Children Analysis of children’s breakdowns offers a rich data source, potentially revealing patterns of weakness in children’s communication ability. The purpose of the present study was to present a fine-grained instrument, the Breakdown Coding System (BCS; Yont, 1998), for measuring conversational breakdowns in preschoolers. The BCS was applied to language samples ... Clinical Focus
Clinical Focus  |   November 01, 2000
A Coding System for Describing Conversational Breakdowns in Preschool Children
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Kristine M. Yont
    Harvard University Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA
  • Lynne E. Hewitt
    Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH
  • Adele W. Miccio
    The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
  • Contact author: Kristine M. Yont, PhD, Harvard University Graduate School of Education, Larsen Hall 3, Cambridge, MA 02138. E-mail: kristine_yont@gse.harvard.edu
Article Information
Normal Language Processing / Language Disorders / Clinical Focus
Clinical Focus   |   November 01, 2000
A Coding System for Describing Conversational Breakdowns in Preschool Children
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, November 2000, Vol. 9, 300-309. doi:10.1044/1058-0360.0904.300
History: Received April 3, 2000 , Accepted September 13, 2000
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, November 2000, Vol. 9, 300-309. doi:10.1044/1058-0360.0904.300
History: Received April 3, 2000; Accepted September 13, 2000

Analysis of children’s breakdowns offers a rich data source, potentially revealing patterns of weakness in children’s communication ability. The purpose of the present study was to present a fine-grained instrument, the Breakdown Coding System (BCS; Yont, 1998), for measuring conversational breakdowns in preschoolers. The BCS was applied to language samples collected from five typically developing children (ages 3;11–4;2 years) during naturalistic interactions with familiar caregivers. Results indicated that the BCS was a useful tool for describing children’s breakdowns. Further support for the BCS was seen in the high interobserver reliability for identifying (kappa = .8834) and describing (kappa = .9170) breakdowns and in its usefulness for profiling individual patterns of breakdown types across children. This study is an important first step in developing a valid and useful measure for clinical analysis of breakdowns in young children’s conversational samples.

Acknowledgments
We are grateful to the three anonymous reviewers for their detailed and thoughtful comments on earlier versions of this manuscript. This study was conducted as part of the requirements of a doctoral degree at The Pennsylvania State University. It was funded in part by a graduate student scholarship awarded to the first author from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and a grant from the Center for the Study of Children and Youth, The Pennsylvania State University. We wish to thank Lynne Vernon-Feagans and Gordon W. Blood for their assistance with this study. Appreciation is also expressed to Donna M. Treiber for her input during the development of the BCS. In addition, special thanks are given to each of the children and the caregivers who so willingly participated in this project. Portions of this study were presented at the 1998 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Conference, San Antonio, TX.
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