Exploring the Utility of a School-Age Narrative Microstructure Index: Proportion of Restricted Utterances Purpose This research attempted to replicate Hoffman's 2009  finding that the proportion of narrative utterances with semantic or syntactic errors (i.e., ≥ 14% “restricted utterances”) can differentiate school-age children with typical development from those with language impairment with a sensitivity of 83% and specificity of 88%. Method Methods ... Research Note
Research Note  |   April 01, 2016
Exploring the Utility of a School-Age Narrative Microstructure Index: Proportion of Restricted Utterances
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Sara Jerger
    University of Washington, Seattle
  • John C. Thorne
    University of Washington, Seattle
  • 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 Sara Jerger: sbeth2@uw.edu
  • Editor: Marilyn Nippold
    Editor: Marilyn Nippold×
  • Associate Editor: Mary Alt
    Associate Editor: Mary Alt×
Article Information
School-Based Settings / Research Issues, Methods & Evidence-Based Practice / Language Disorders / Research Note
Research Note   |   April 01, 2016
Exploring the Utility of a School-Age Narrative Microstructure Index: Proportion of Restricted Utterances
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, April 2016, Vol. 47, 171-180. doi:10.1044/2015_LSHSS-15-0021
History: Received April 24, 2015 , Revised June 29, 2015 , Accepted September 1, 2015
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, April 2016, Vol. 47, 171-180. doi:10.1044/2015_LSHSS-15-0021
History: Received April 24, 2015; Revised June 29, 2015; Accepted September 1, 2015

Purpose This research attempted to replicate Hoffman's 2009  finding that the proportion of narrative utterances with semantic or syntactic errors (i.e., ≥ 14% “restricted utterances”) can differentiate school-age children with typical development from those with language impairment with a sensitivity of 83% and specificity of 88%.

Method Methods similar to Hoffman (2009)  were used to evaluate an existing set of narratives from 16 age-matched pairs of 8- to 9-year-old children, half with known language impairment. Transcripts were segmented into T-units; a code of [RESTRICTED] was assigned to any utterance with semantic or syntactic errors.

Results A Welch's t test for independent samples revealed a statistically significant difference in the mean proportion of restricted utterances between the two groups after accommodation for an outlier with typical development. A cutoff of ≥ 14% restricted utterances replicated Hoffman's (2009)  sensitivity but not specificity. Post hoc analysis of specific error types found sensitivity and specificity rates similar to Hoffman's as well as a significant difference in means when using a proportion of sentence–internal morphosyntactic errors.

Conclusion Results support further exploration of utterance-level error coding for diagnostic purposes and future development of this approach to meet clinical assessment needs.

Acknowledgments
Appreciation is given to LaVae Hoffman for her assistance with learning the restricted utterance protocol. In addition, thanks is given to University of Washington, Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences students Katrina Popeo for her help with narrative coding, Kathryn Greenslade for insightful comments, and Melissa Hellen for help with editing.
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