Children -- Language, Children -- Writing, Language awareness in children, Literacy, Preschool children


Much research demonstrates that alphabet knowledge, phonological awareness, and emergent writing are all significant predictors of later reading and writing outcomes, and that children with language impairments (LI) are particularly at risk for later literacy difficulties. Further, children with LI consistently demonstrate depressed emergent literacy skills in the areas of phonological awareness, print concepts, and alphabet knowledge; however, little is known about their emergent writing skills. Therefore, the purposes of this study were twofold: (1) to compare the emergent writing skills of preschool children with language impairment to their typically developing peers using a range of writing tasks and a detailed, consistent scoring rubric for each task; and, (2) to explore the relationships among emergent writing skills and alphabet knowledge, phonological awareness, and oral language. The participants included four groups of preschool children: 11 4-year-old children with LI; 11 4-year-old language typical (LT) children, age-matched to children with LI; 20 4-year-old children with typical language; and, 21 5-year-old children with typical language. Children with language impairment scored between 70 and 84 on the Language Index of Assessment of Literacy and Language (ALL) (Lombardino, Lieberman, & Brown, 2005), and children with typical language scored between 85 and 115. All children passed a bilateral hearing screen, scored within the normal range on a non-verbal intelligence screen, demonstrated an unremarkable developmental history relative to sensory, neurological, and motor performance, spoke English as their primary language, and had mothers with at least a high school education or equivalent. iii During two sessions, children were administered the ALL and five emergent writing tasks: Write Letters, Write Name, Write CVC Words, Picture Description, and Sentence Retell. The writing tasks and accompanying scoring rubrics were adopted from a previous study by Puranik and Lonigan (2009). Results indicated that children with LI demonstrated significantly less advanced letter and word writing skills than their language typical, age-matched peers. In addition, significant relationships between all emergent writing tasks and alphabet knowledge were observed for all children as well as significant relationships between oral language and phonological awareness for children with typical language. No significant relationships between any of the emergent writing tasks and phonological awareness or between oral language and alphabet knowledge were found. Further, results indicated the same developmental patterns exist in written as well as oral language for children with LI. This study has therapeutic implications for speech-language pathologists. In particular, emergent writing tasks need to be included in comprehensive assessment and intervention approaches for children with LI. Assessments need to yield accurate descriptions of emergent writing skills relevant to later literacy outcomes. Finally, integrated intervention approaches that combine initial sound awareness tasks with alphabet knowledge and emergent writing tasks may achieve the best learning outcomes.


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Lieberman, R. Jane


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Education








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Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Education, Education -- Dissertations, Academic

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