grammar

ResearchCategory:Research Journal Articles

Written language outcomes of deaf elementary students engaged in authentic writing

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This study explores the impact of Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI) on six students’ written language skills through the application of a multiple-baseline probe single case design with embedded condition. This was part of a larger Institute of Education Sciences (IES)-funded project focused on the development and feasibility of implementation of SIWI. For the majority of skills analyzed, there were improvements in the mean level of performance with the implementation of SIWI, as well as more consistent responding and positive trends in the data. The study also revealed that teachers are in need of additional tools to aid the systematic identification and tracking of syntax skills in children’s written language development, and to distinguish these from other writing skills such as conventions or handwriting.

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Research Journal Articles

Beyond the red pen: A functional grammar approach to evaluating the written language of deaf students

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Deaf students often differ from their hearing peers in written language development.  Providing developmentally appropriate instruction is ideal, yet current methods of writing assessment do not provide teachers with sufficient information regarding the written language (i.e., syntactic) development of deaf students.  In this research, we use a Systemic Functional Grammar (SFG) approach to language analysis to provide teachers a way to evaluate deaf students’ writing. This project consisted of two studies.  The first study focused on whether SFG analysis could be helpful for teachers of the deaf.  The second study focused on mapping a trajectory of the written language development of deaf students and the development of written language inventory for teachers of the deaf. This inventory, along with additional evaluation tools, has the potential to impact both objective setting and instruction.
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Developing a Written Language Inventory for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students: A Systemic Functional Grammar Approach

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Deaf and hard of hearing (d/hh) students are extremely diverse in language development due to vast differences in residual hearing, response to hearing technologies, and exposure to American Sign Language. Writing is a struggle for these students who have delayed and limited access to English. Studies have found that d/hh students continue to lag behind their hearing peers in syntactic development. Unfortunately, current methods of writing assessment do not provide teachers with sufficient information regarding the syntactic development of d/hh students. This dissertation responds to the need for an assessment that is able to provide this information that is necessary for setting sentence-level objectives and planning developmentally-appropriate instruction.

This project began when I conducted a small pilot study to determine how Systemic Functional Grammar (SFG) analysis could impact teachers ability to set instructional objectives. I conducted a SFG analysis to identify the syntactic structures used by a small group (N=26) of d/hh and hearing 3rd-5th graders. The students were divided into low, mid, and high language proficiency groups and a hearing peer group (N=9) was added. I used the findings of the analysis to construct syntactic structure progression charts to guide teachers in SFG analysis, and four teachers field-tested these charts. The study findings indicated that while SFG analysis can provide teachers with insight into their students’ present level of syntactic development and assist them in setting individual objectives, the time requirements associated with SFG analysis make it an unlikely choice for written language assessment.

The purpose of the current study was to construct a written language inventory that could allow teachers to benefit from the advantages of SFG analysis, without requiring extensive time for training and analysis of samples. Using the pilot study findings, I constructed a draft of the written language inventory. The draft was field tested by 8 teachers of d/hh students in a variety of settings, and a second SFG analysis was conducted to examine the syntactic structures used by a larger, more diverse group of students (N=98). Findings were used to make revisions to the structure and content of the written language inventory.

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Research Journal Articles

The Language Zone: Differentiating writing instruction for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

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Interactive Writing is a powerful support for language and literacy development; however, its emphasis on using oral language to construct written language can present challenges for deaf students due to their unique and diverse language experiences. Teachers (n = 14) using Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI) in grades 3–5 were observed using a space referred to as ‘the language zone’ (LZ) to address the needs of deaf students. The LZ is a space in a classroom where the creation, translation and revision of ideas is made visible. Researchers developed a flowchart with three tiers to document the purposes for which teachers use the space. Accompanying scenarios provide concrete examples. Teachers can use the LZ flow chart as a tool to recognize, analyze and select instructional moves that may positively impact the language and literacy proficiencies of deaf students.

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Research Journal Articles

The assessment of written phrasal constructs and grammar of deaf and hard of hearing students with varying expressive language abilities

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The purpose of this study was to examine the written phrasal constructs and grammar usage of deaf and hard of hearing students with varying expressive language skills. Twenty-nine d/hh middle school students attending a residential school for the deaf were divided into three language groups: students using spoken English, ASL/English bilinguals, and language delayed learners. Personal narrative writing samples were collected at the beginning, middle, and end of the academic year. The samples were divided into T-units and coded for language variables, including word efficiency ratio (WER) scores according to the Structural Analysis of Written Language (SAWL) and phrasal errors. The repeated measures ANOVA for WER III showed a statistically significant main effect with no between-subjects factor, demonstrating that students from all three language groups made positive gains in their written outcomes over one academic year. There was a reduction in phrasal errors over the course of the year for all language groups. Differences in word efficiency ratio scores by language groups are discussed. Findings from this study suggest that SAWL is an effective tool in assessing the grammatically of written compositions for d/hh students with varying language abilities over time. Instructional implications are discussed.

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Research Journal Articles

“I was born full deaf.” Written language outcomes after one year of Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI)

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Nonstandard grammatical forms are often present in the writing of deaf students which are rarely, if ever, seen in the writing of hearing students. With the implementation of Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI) in previous studies, students have demonstrated significant gains in high-level writing skills (e.g., text structure) but have also made gains with English grammar skills. This one-year study expands on prior research by longitudinally examining the written language growth (i.e., writing length, sentence complexity, sentence awareness and function words) of 29 deaf middle school students. A repeated-measures ANOVA with a between-subjects variable for literacy achievement level was used to examine gains over time and the intervention’s efficacy when used with students of various literacy levels. Students, whether high- or lowachieving, demonstrated statistically significant gains with writing length, sentence complexity and sentence awareness. Subordinate clauses were found to be an area of difficulty, and follow up strategies are suggested. An analysis of function word data, specifically prepositions and articles, revealed different patterns of written language growth by language group (e.g., ASL users, oral students, users of English-based sign).

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Research Journal Articles

Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI): Apprenticing deaf students in the construction of English text

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This study investigates the effects of using Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI) with deaf, middle school students who use American Sign Language as their L1 and written English as L2. Using a pretest-posttest control group design, the research explores whether students receiving SIWI made significantly greater gains compared to those not receiving SIWI on a number of variables. There are 33 total students, 16 in the treatment group and 17 in the comparison group. The intervention lasted a total of 8 weeks, during which time the treatment group collaboratively constructed two report papers using SIWI components, and the comparison group continued with their typical literacy instruction. The pre and posttest measures were scored, according to rubrics, for evidence of primary traits, contextual language, and conventions. The multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) and follow-up univariate analyses were statistically significant. Furthermore, effect sizes (d) were large to very large, ranging from 1.27 to 2.65, indicating SIWI to be an effective approach with deaf L2 writers.

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Research Journal Articles

Using balanced and interactive writing instruction to improve the higher order and lower order writing skills of deaf students

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The current study reports the findings of balanced and interactive writing instruction used with 16 deaf and hard of hearing students. Although the instruction has been used previously, this was the first time it had been modified to suit the specific needs of deaf children and the first time it had been implemented with this subpopulation of students. The intervention took place in two elementary classrooms (N=8) and one middle school classroom (N=8) for a total of 21 days. A comparison of pre and posttest scores on both writing and reading measures evidenced that students made significant gains with use of genre-specific traits, use of contextual language, editing/revising skills, and word identification. Students showed neither gains nor losses with conventions and total word count. In addition, a one-way MANOVA was used to detect any school-level effects. Elementary students made significantly greater gains with respect to conventions and word identification, and middle school students made significantly greater gains with editing and revising tasks.

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