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The Sentence Diversity Checklist: Characterizing Early Syntactic Development Using Parent Report

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Title: The Sentence Diversity Checklist: Characterizing Early Syntactic Development Using Parent Report
Author(s): McKenna, Megan M.
Contributor(s): Hadley, Pamela A.
Subject(s): Child language Grammatical development Sentence diversity
Abstract: Most children acquire language without difficulty, progressing rapidly from single-word utterances (e.g., nose; sleep), to simple child-like sentences (e.g., nose go there; baby sleep), and then to longer, multi-word sentences marked for tense and agreement (e.g., the nose goes in there; the baby is sleeping). Existing parent report tools provide a valid means of assessing children’s vocabulary development and the emergence of more grammatically-complex forms (Fenson et al., 2007). However, current measures used to assess the onset of first sentences focus primarily on the average utterance length. For this study, we developed a parent report tool to measure children’s sentence diversity, or the ability to combine different sentence subjects and verbs. Sentence diversity is hypothesized to be a more sensitive indicator of progress in early grammatical development and to be a precursor to the subsequent development of tense and agreement (Hadley & Rispoli, 2010; Villa, 2010). The purpose of this project was to develop a parent report tool, the Sentence Diversity Checklist (SDC), to measure children’s early sentence diversity, and to evaluate its validity. Parents of 10 toddlers completed the SDC. Toddlers were between the ages of 21 and 27 months and were producing 100 to 400 words. The toddlers participated in a 1-hr free play session to obtain sentence measures from spontaneous language samples. Although the correlation between the total numbers of unique subject verb combinations (USVs) reported on SDCs and produced in language samples was not significant, a moderately strong correlation was observed for the number of USVs with first person singular subjects between the two measures. In addition, patterns of sentence subject expansion were similar to those reported by Villa (2010). The discussion will address possible revisions to the SDC and the value of using parent report as part of the assessment process.
Issue Date: 2011-05-10
Citation Info: McKenna, M.M. (2011). The Sentence Diversity Checklist: Characterizing early syntactic development using parent report. (Senior honors thesis, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2011)
Genre: Dissertation / Thesis
Type: Text
Language: English
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/25772
Publication Status: unpublished
Peer Reviewed: not peer reviewed
Date Available in IDEALS: 2011-07-11
 

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