Does Rare Vocabulary Use Distinguish Giftedness From Typical Development? A Study of School-Age African American Narrators Purpose The purpose of this study was to examine rare vocabulary produced in the spoken narratives of school-age African American children. Method Forty-three children from general and gifted classrooms produced 2 narratives: a personal story and a fictional story that was based on the wordless book Frog, Where ... Research Note
Newly Published
Research Note  |   March 22, 2017
Does Rare Vocabulary Use Distinguish Giftedness From Typical Development? A Study of School-Age African American Narrators
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Monique T. Mills
    The Ohio State University, Columbus
  • Jamie Mahurin-Smith
    Illinois State University, Normal
  • Sara C. Steele
    Saint Louis University, MO
  • 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 Monique T. Mills: mills.298@osu.edu
  • Editor: Krista Wilkinson
    Editor: Krista Wilkinson×
  • Associate Editor: Li Sheng
    Associate Editor: Li Sheng×
Article Information
Development / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / School-Based Settings / Newly Published / Research Note
Research Note   |   March 22, 2017
Does Rare Vocabulary Use Distinguish Giftedness From Typical Development? A Study of School-Age African American Narrators
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, Newly Published. doi:10.1044/2016_AJSLP-15-0157
History: Received September 29, 2015 , Revised March 22, 2016 , Accepted October 19, 2016
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, Newly Published. doi:10.1044/2016_AJSLP-15-0157
History: Received September 29, 2015; Revised March 22, 2016; Accepted October 19, 2016

Purpose The purpose of this study was to examine rare vocabulary produced in the spoken narratives of school-age African American children.

Method Forty-three children from general and gifted classrooms produced 2 narratives: a personal story and a fictional story that was based on the wordless book Frog, Where Are You? (Mayer, 1969). The Wordlist for Expressive Rare Vocabulary Evaluation (Mahurin-Smith, DeThorne, & Petrill, 2015) was used to tally number and type of uncommon words produced in these narratives. The authors used t tests and logistic regressions to explore classroom- and narrative-type differences in rare vocabulary production. Correlational analysis determined the relationship between dialect variation and rare vocabulary production.

Results Findings indicated that tallies of rare-word types were higher in fictional narratives, whereas rare-word density—a measure that controls for narrative length—was greater in personal narratives. Rare-word density distinguished children in general classrooms from those in gifted classrooms. There was no correlation between dialect variation and rare-word density.

Conclusion Examining school-age African American children's facility with rare vocabulary production appears to be a dialect-neutral way to measure their narrative language and to distinguish gifted children from typically developing children.

Acknowledgments
We recognize a Social and Behavioral Sciences Small Grant awarded to the first author, which provided seed money to conduct the study. We thank parents for allowing their children to participate in this study. Gratitude is extended to the school staff who provided time and space for data collection. We show appreciation for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign students who assisted with data collection (Aj'a Johnson) and narrative transcription (Taliah Basar, Canaro Cummings, Courtney Winfrey). We are grateful to Monica Fox for assistance with establishing reliability and to Dale Rhoda for statistical consultation. We thank Laura DeThorne and Steven Petrill for their collaboration with the second author, which made the WERVE possible. This study was approved by the Behavioral and Social Sciences Institutional Review Boards at The Ohio State University and at Illinois State University.
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