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Title page for ETD etd-03282016-164932

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Weiler, Brian Kenneth
URN etd-03282016-164932
Title Tense Marking in the General Kindergarten Population: Is there Evidence of Bimodal Distribution?
Degree PhD
Department Hearing and Speech Sciences
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
C. Melanie Schuele Committee Chair
James Bodfish Committee Member
Megan Saylor Committee Member
Stephen Camarata Committee Member
  • tense marking
  • SLI
  • language impairment
  • bimodal distribution
  • kindergarten
  • finiteness
Date of Defense 2016-02-26
Availability unrestricted
Tense marking at the point of school entry, that is, kindergarten, has been hypothesized to follow a bimodal distribution. Under this hypothesis, it is predicted that most children exhibit tense marking skills at or near the upper end of proficiency whereas some children demonstrate notably reduced proficiency. Due to this separation of skill level, kindergarten tense marking is considered a clinical marker for language impairment. The purpose of this study was to test the validity of a bimodal distribution of tense marking in a population-based sample of kindergarten students. The Test of Early Grammatical Impairment (TEGI) Screening Test was administered to three-quarters of the kindergarten students attending a school district of Mainstream American English speakers. Results revealed a distribution of TEGI Screening Test Scores that deviated significantly from normality. Cluster analysis indicated a best-fitting two-cluster solution that, upon inspection, generally aligned with bimodal-distribution expectations for typical and language-impaired classification prevalence rates and threshold values. Cross validation of child cluster membership to a reference standard for a subsample of participants offered further, albeit preliminary, evidence in support of the discriminant validity of assessing tense marking for the purpose of identifying language impairment in the general kindergarten population.
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