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Let Me Explain: Teenage Expository Language Samples

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  1. Thomas O. Malone1, Jon F. Miller2,5, Karen Andriacchi2, John Heilmann3, Ann Nockerts2,5 and Liz Schoonveld4 1School District of Brown Deer, Wisconsin2University of Wisconsin – Madison3East Carolina University4Madison Metropolitan School District 5SALT Software, LLC ASHA Convention Presentation Chicago, IL November 21, 2008 Let Me Explain:Teenage Expository Language Samples

  2. What were the clinical goals of the project? Create a large normative database in expository discourse, similar to what has been developed for conversational and narrative discourse. Nippold, et al. (2007) Use that database to document language deficits in adolescents and plan intervention. Nippold, et al. (2008)

  3. What is expository discourse?Where do we find it in school curriculum? Definition: The imparting of information Expository language permeates the secondary curriculum and … is crucial to academic success at this level (Nickola Nelson, 1998) Examples: How a bill becomes law How the heart pumps blood Takes written & spoken forms

  4. What’s Expected of Older Students?Wisconsin’s Standards for Oral Language By the end of grade eight, students will, speaking from notes or an outline, relate an experience in descriptive detail, with a sense of timing and decorum appropriate to the occasion. *Note the combining of spoken & written modalities* By the end of grade twelve, students will develop and deliver a speech that conveys information and ideas in logical fashion for a selected audience, using language that clarifies and reinforces meaning. *Note the emphasis on planning & organization* Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (1998). Wisconsin’s Model Academic Standards for English Language Arts. http://dpi.wi.gov/standards/

  5. The Task: Pick an element, such as magnesium Using note cards and a 3D atomic model of the element, give a speech of several minutes that covers… Expository Language in 7th Grade Science:The Elements Speech

  6. Expository Language in 7th Grade Science:The Elements Speech that covers….. Full name of element Atomic symbol Atomic mass Atomic number Location in the periodic table (period & family) Electronic configuration Common Compounds

  7. Expository Language in 7th Grade Science:The Elements Speech But wait—there’s more… Physical properties, such as color, type (metal, nonmetal, metalloid), melting & boiling points, state at room temperature Discovery: Who, Where, & When Sources Uses How cool does it look if you set it on fire?

  8. Why aren’t conversational & narrative samples good enough to measure complex language in older students? In the Wisconsin Reference Database, key linguistic measures showing age-related growth, such as MLU, reached a plateau for conversation and narration at 11 to 13 years old, suggesting a limit to the tasks’ ability to tap into students’ linguistic competence Clinical experience confirms that these tasks are not consistently motivating or challenging for older students. Conversational and narrative tasks don’t match curriculum expectations for older students. Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction 2nd Edition 2005

  9. Preferred Expository Task:Explaining a Favorite Game or Sport Advantages of a favorite game or sport task: Clinically generates the longest and most detailed samples of the tasks tried Is both challenging and motivating for students Is unbiased, reflecting students’ knowledge and interest across gender, ages, and cultures (e.g., hurling, an Irish form of lacrosse) Features standard rules and vocabulary that are easily accessible and provide a check on students’ accuracy, similar to the expository summaries of a science video used in Scott & Windsor (2000) but one which leaves students with a choice Elicits, according to recent research, more complex language than conversation as measured by mean length of t-unit, clausal density, frequency of adverbial, nominal, & relative clauses Nippold, et al. 2005—ages 9 to 44 Nippold, et al. 2008—age 14 Plus… Milwaukee Hurling Club http://www.hurling.net/hrules.html

  10. The favorite sport or game task ispart of the K-12 Curriculum By the end of grade 8 students will: Understand and apply more advanced movement and game strategies such as explaining and demonstrating strategies involved in playing tennis doubles; Identify the characteristics of highly skilled performance in movement forms such as describing the characteristics that enable success in passing and spiking after observing a team of skillful volleyball players. Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (1997). Wisconsin’s Model Academic Standards for Physical Education. http://dpi.wi.gov/standards/pdf/phyed.pdf)

  11. Design of the Task Mirrors curriculum goals by: Building in planning time Combining written and spoken modalities How? By giving students a planning sheet and requiring them to plan before speaking • Other topics: Start, Course of Play, Rules, Scoring, Duration, & Strategies

  12. Designing a Performance Assessment Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2001), Understanding by Design

  13. Expository Protocol Examiner presents the task and planning sheet Students are given time to fill out planning sheet—usually no more than 5 minutes Students, using their planning sheet, explain the sport or game they selected Examiner records the expository for later transcription Total sampling time: 20 minutes

  14. Sample of a Sample: Hurling C And you play on a pitch [SI-1]. C And it/'s to get the ball, the sliotar, into (a like) a soccer sized goal [SI-1]. C (And or you can) if[ADV:L] you get it in the goal, it/'s three point/s [SI-2]. C (And if you) or you can put it up through some upright/s (uh) like a fieldgoal post, which[REL:R] is one point [SI-2].

  15. Another Sample of a Sample:A High School Speech-Language Student C Hello, my name is Akeem. C (I/'m) I/'m gonna be here to talk about track and field . C The first thing I/'m gonna (um) talk about as far as (how to you know wi* how to win how to win a track and fiel*) how to win in a track meet is to (you know fa* like) run your hardest. C (Um uh run your fast) run your fastest and your hardest. C Try to maintain your energy through the race. C And (finish finish first) cross the finish line first. C And try to like get (a record you know) any record that (they) they tell you (that) that you need to do. C (Um that/'s your main) your main focus is (you know) just to finish first…

  16. Goals Develop a representative database of expository language samples from students 12 – 15 years of age Describe expository performance relative to conversation and narrative samples Compare our expository dataset to the research literature on exposition Answer research questions about expository language performance prior to clinical implementation

  17. Research Questions • Do different expository contexts(team sport, individual sport, game) result in significantly different outcomes? • Are measures of language production significantly different for expository samples than narrative and conversational samples? • Do measures of language production for the expository samples change relative to age? • What are the most commonly used types of subordinators; adverbial, nominal, or relative?

  18. Recruiting participants • Social and Behavioral Sciences IRB UW – Madison • Research Committee MMSD • Research review by other districts • Districts identify possible participants by age/grade • Send consent letters to parents with return envelop • Signed consent letters returned to SALT research group

  19. Identifying the cohort • 284 consent letters returned and reviewed for age, gender, SES, and race/ethnicity • 100 participants selected • Assigned to 28 volunteer SLPs by districts and schools, 2-5 students each • 87 of 100 samples were collected from identified participants, all followed the protocol with good quality recordings

  20. 87 Participants • Collected from two geographic areas in Wisconsin Targeted ages: 13 and 15 year olds

  21. 87 Participants • Gender • Academic Achievement • Race/Ethnicity – 20% minority • SES - 18% free or reduced lunch

  22. Transcription Transcribed by trained students using SALT conventions Each sample transcribed, then checked by second transcriber. Disagreements resolved by original transcriber Process followed Heilmann, et. al., 2007 which documented reliability of SALT transcription and coding

  23. Transcript coding • Subordination Index (SI) • Average number of clauses per utterance • Type of subordinate clause coding • Adverbial, nominal, or relative • Placement of each in the utterance • Left-branching [before the main verb] • Right-branching [after the main verb] • Expository Scoring Scheme (ESS) • 10 categories based on structural components listed on planning sheet

  24. Transcript analyses Language analyses performed by SALT Software – Research Version 2008 87 transcripts processed for 19 variables Placed automatically into a rectangular data file ready for statistical analyses

  25. Expository Topics

  26. Comparing Measures Across Expository Topics Four separate Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) tests were completed, with the language sample measure as the dependant variable and topic as the between groups variable.

  27. Comparing Measures Across Expository Topics: Mean Values No significant differences across contexts

  28. Comparing Across Sampling Contexts:Conversation vs. Narrative vs. Expository Compared expository samples to conversations and narratives from the SALT Conversation and Narrative SSS reference databases Limited to students ages 12;9 – 13;5 All samples cut at 40 complete and intelligible verbal utterances

  29. Analyses Five separate ANOVAs, with language sample measure as the dependent variable and sampling context (conversation vs. narrative vs. expository) as the between groups variable Post-hoc Scheffé tests were completed to document differences between conditions All significant effects at p < .05

  30. Mean Length of Utterance Significant main effect for sampling context Post-hoc: Significant difference between each condition

  31. Subordination Index Significant main effect for sampling context Post-hoc: Significant difference between expository and conversation/narrative

  32. Number of Different Words Significant main effect for sampling context Post-hoc: Significant difference between each condition

  33. Words per Minute * Significant main effect for sampling context Post-hoc: Significant difference between conversation & narrative only

  34. Mazes No significant main effect for sampling condition

  35. Errors and Omissions * * Significant main effect for sampling context Post-hoc: Significant difference between expository and conversation/narrative

  36. Do the Expository Language Variables Correlate with Age? Are there changes in performance across students ranging in age from 12;7 – 15;9? Bivariate correlations completed between language measures and age

  37. Correlation with Age No significant correlation observed

  38. Relationship Between ESS and Other Language Measures Is the expository structure measure (ESS) related to word and utterance level measures such as MLU and NDW?

  39. Correlation with ESS * significant at p ≤ .05

  40. Complex Syntax: Use of Subordination Subordination index was significantly higher in exposition than other contexts What’s going on?

  41. Types of Subordinates:Mean values

  42. Subordinators Used

  43. Comparison data

  44. Summary • Documented that expository type did not affect results, team sport, individual sport, game • Expository samples produced more complex syntax (SI) Consistent with Nippold, 2005, 2008 • Expository structure scores significantly correlate with word and utterance measures • Performance not significantly correlated with age 13 and 15 year olds

  45. Case Example • Akeem • Age 16;9, Grade 11 • First received speech-language services at age 3; also identified as LD; enrolled in Brown Deer as a 7th grader • Concerns from previous district: Staying on topic, word retrieval, organizing information • Longstanding teacher concern: Difficulty expressing himself in a clear and concise manner

  46. Using the Expository Database Based on 51 complete & intelligible utterances Comparison to 49 subjects (26 females, 23 males) * = at least 1 SD, ** = at least 2 SD from the database mean

  47. Charting Akeem’s Progress 2006 soccer expo vs. 2008 track expo Based on 35 complete & intelligible utterances

  48. Conclusions Children between 12 – 15 perform similarly on expository task No difference in type of game children are describing Dataset is consistent with previous research by Nippold More challenging context as evidenced by increased use of subordination Database provides a mechanism to measure expository performance in this age group

  49. Clinical utility of expository task Exposition central to curriculum in middle and high school Included as state standards for speaking and writing Challenges students to use language in context (authentic, naturalistic, real speaking and listening) Integrates SLP into students total curriculum

  50. Database availability SALT databases will soon be available free at www.saltsoftware.com Protocols and other information about specific measures are also available on the website