Date of Award:

5-2009

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Special Education and Rehabilitation

Advisor/Chair:

Timothy A Slocum

Abstract

Narration, or storytelling, is an important aspect of language. Narrative skills have practical and social importance; for example, children who tell good stories receive attention and approval from their peers. When children accurately recount events surrounding an injury or dispute, vital information is passed to parents and teachers. Additionally, early childhood narrative skills are moderately correlated with reading comprehension in primary grades. Because narration is socially and academically valued, language interventionists often address it. The research literature on narrative intervention has most often included school-aged participants and those with language or learning difficulties. Only a small number of studies have investigated narrative intervention with preschoolers, and the supporting evidence is suggestive rather than conclusive. Outcomes frequently targeted include narrative story grammar (e.g., character, problem, action, consequence) and general language outcomes (e.g., length of story, mean length of communication unit, and total number of words). Results have been generally positive; however, the methodological quality of studies is poor. Therefore, few firm conclusions can be drawn regarding the efficacy of narrative interventions. Because of its potential and popularity, the effect of narrative intervention on a range of populations needs to be examined systematically through high quality research. This study evaluated the effects of a narrative intervention on story retelling and story generation using a multiple baseline design with five target participants. We delivered narrative intervention in a small group arrangement. Materials, activities, and instructor assistance were adjusted systematically within session to facilitate increasingly independent practice of story retells and personal story generations. Results suggest that narrative intervention improved participants' narrative retell and personal generation performance based on Index of Narrative Complexity (INC) scores. All five target participants made substantial gains in narrative retelling, demonstrated improved pre-intervention to post-intervention INC scores for personal generations, and these improvements maintained when assessed following a 2-week break. In addition, we documented growth in general language measures such as number of communication units, mean length of utterance, number of different words, and total number of words.

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