Child Modifiability as a Predictor of Language Abilities in Deaf Children Who Use American Sign Language Purpose This research explored the use of dynamic assessment (DA) for language-learning abilities in signing deaf children from deaf and hearing families. Method Thirty-seven deaf children, aged 6 to 11 years, were identified as either stronger (n = 26) or weaker (n = 11) language learners according to ... Research Article
Research Article  |   August 01, 2015
Child Modifiability as a Predictor of Language Abilities in Deaf Children Who Use American Sign Language
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Wolfgang Mann
    University of Roehampton, London, United Kingdom
    The University of Texas at Austin
    City University London, United Kingdom
  • Elizabeth D. Peña
    The University of Texas at Austin
  • Gary Morgan
    City University London, United Kingdom
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Wolfgang Mann: Wolfgang.Mann@roehampton.ac.uk
  • Editor: Krista Wilkinson
    Editor: Krista Wilkinson×
  • Associate Editor: Carol Miller
    Associate Editor: Carol Miller×
Article Information
Development / Hearing Disorders / Audiologic / Aural Rehabilitation / Augmentative & Alternative Communication / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 01, 2015
Child Modifiability as a Predictor of Language Abilities in Deaf Children Who Use American Sign Language
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, August 2015, Vol. 24, 374-385. doi:10.1044/2015_AJSLP-14-0072
History: Received May 23, 2014 , Revised November 21, 2014 , Accepted February 21, 2015
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, August 2015, Vol. 24, 374-385. doi:10.1044/2015_AJSLP-14-0072
History: Received May 23, 2014; Revised November 21, 2014; Accepted February 21, 2015

Purpose This research explored the use of dynamic assessment (DA) for language-learning abilities in signing deaf children from deaf and hearing families.

Method Thirty-seven deaf children, aged 6 to 11 years, were identified as either stronger (n = 26) or weaker (n = 11) language learners according to teacher or speech-language pathologist report. All children received 2 scripted, mediated learning experience sessions targeting vocabulary knowledge—specifically, the use of semantic categories that were carried out in American Sign Language. Participant responses to learning were measured in terms of an index of child modifiability. This index was determined separately at the end of the 2 individual sessions. It combined ratings reflecting each child's learning abilities and responses to mediation, including social–emotional behavior, cognitive arousal, and cognitive elaboration.

Results Group results showed that modifiability ratings were significantly better for stronger language learners than for weaker language learners. The strongest predictors of language ability were cognitive arousal and cognitive elaboration.

Conclusion Mediator ratings of child modifiability (i.e., combined score of social-emotional factors and cognitive factors) are highly sensitive to language-learning abilities in deaf children who use sign language as their primary mode of communication. This method can be used to design targeted interventions.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by a Marie Curie International Outgoing Research Fellowship within the 7th European Community Framework Programme, awarded to the first author. The third author's work was funded by Economic and Social Research Council Grants 620-28-6001 and 620-28-6002 (awarded to the Deafness, Cognition, and Language Research Centre, London, United Kingdom). We thank all of the people involved in developing the materials and administering the learning sessions and tests for their assistance and expertise. We also thank the participating school for allowing us access to the students.
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