written language

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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Dissertations

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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Developing students’ first language through a second language writing intervention: A simultaneous approach

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Deaf and hard of hearing (d/hh) children often acquire an L1 after age 3, thus are arguably more diverse than that of the general bilingual population. A unique problem therefore exists among d/hh late language learners—they often do not have an L1 to later develop an L2. This study investigated the impact of an English writing intervention (Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction, SIWI) that incorporates support for the development of American Sign Language in an effort to illustrate the necessity of explicitly addressing the proposed interdependence of language learning. The research involved providing 23 upper elementary and middle school d/hh students with SIWI. SIWI has been shown to have a significant impact on student outcomes in language and literacy. The study was conducted in five classrooms—one fourth, two fifth, and two sixth grade classrooms—over a twelve-week period at a state residential school for the deaf. This allowed for two weeks of pre-test, mid-test and post-test administration, five weeks of regular instruction, and five weeks of intervention. The students received SIWI for four forty-five minute sessions and one thirty-minute session each week for a total of five weeks. The intervention replaced their regular 45 minutes of writing instruction. In order to measure expressive language growth in ASL, language samples for each student participant were collected. These samples were analyzed to chart expressive language growth during the time period with no SIWI intervention and while engaged in SIWI by reviewing them for students’ mean length of utterance (MLU), use of unintelligible utterances, and specific grammatical features of ASL, and individually for patterns of ASL expressive language growth. Repeated measures ANOVAs (within and between subjects) conducted for students’ MLU and unintelligible utterances revealed statistically significant growth after five weeks of SIWI. This study demonstrates the reciprocity of language learning. The foregrounding of written English supported the development of a more nuanced understanding of the use and features of ASL.

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Dissertations

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

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The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of writing instruction that was strategic and interactive, namely Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI), when utilized with deaf, middle school students. In addition to strategic and interactive instruction, four minor instructional components included: (a) use of writing examples and non-examples; (b) metalinguistic knowledge building; (c) use of visual scaffolds; and (d) NIP-it lessons (i.e., contextualized mini-lessons involving Noticing, Instructing, and Practicing). The study used a non-equivalent, pretest-posttest control group design to explore whether students receiving SIWI made significantly greater gains compared to those not receiving SIWI on a number of writing variables and reading. The participants of the study were two teachers of the deaf and their respective middle school students. There were 33 total students, 16 in the treatment group and 17 in the comparison group. Students, teachers and schools were matched according to several pertinent variables. The SIWI intervention lasted a total of 8 weeks, during which the treatment teacher guided the collaborative construction of two informative papers; the comparison group continued with their usual literacy instruction. All students were given a battery of assessments prior to and after the intervention to evaluate any gains. These measures included (a) an informative writing assessment, (b) an editing and revising task, (c) a generalization writing probe similar to a 7th grade state standardized assessment, and (d) a SORT-R reading test. The first three measures were scored, according to rubrics, for organization, coherence, evidence of text structure, contextual language, and conventions. A second rater scored approximately 10 to 20% of the papers and obtained an interrater reliability of 0.93 to 1.0. A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was performed along with the necessary follow-up univariate analyses. All analyses were statistically significant, finding SIWI to be an effective instructional approach. Furthermore, the effect sizes (d) or the magnitude of the differences between group means for writing variables were large to very large, ranging from 1.27 to 2.65. The effect size for the reading variable was small to moderate at 0.39.

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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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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

Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction: An efficacy study in grades 3-5

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A quasi-experimental study was conducted to examine the impact of Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction on 3rd-5th grade deaf and hard of hearing students’ writing and written language compared to a business-as-usual condition (treatment group N = 41, comparison group N = 22). A total of 18 hours of instruction was provided for each of two types of writing—personal narrative and persuasive. Writing samples, collected prior to instruction and after, were scored for writing traits, written language accuracy, and complexity. Data were analyzed using a two-level, mixed-effects regression. Results show the treatment to be effective for personal narrative and persuasive writing traits, and personal narrative written language variables, with effect sizes ranging from 0.46 to 2.01. Treatment effects were also substantial for persuasive writing written language outcomes (0.38 to 1.06), although not all were statistically significant at the 0.05 level. The findings suggest the importance of apprenticeship in writing and consideration for the specific language needs of students with hearing loss.

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Research Journal Articles

An analysis of deaf students’ spelling skills during a year-long instructional writing approach

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Numerous studies have shown that spelling presents unique challenges for children who are deaf or hard of hearing (d/hh) and most do not develop age appropriate spelling skills. However, it is critical that these skills are acquired in order to use written language for academic or vocational purposes. Spelling errors from the writing samples of 29 middle school students in a state school for the Deaf were analyzed to examine changes over time. Samples were gathered before, during, and after a year-long writing intervention using Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI). When using SIWI, students are exposed to proper spelling during guided writing instruction; however, spelling is not a specific focus of each lesson. In this study, a linguistic analysis of spelling errors was used to assess each child’s understanding of the phonological, morphological, orthographic, semantic and visual imagery rules that apply to written words. No significant improvements in spelling were noted and the results indicate that spelling should be targeted during writing lessons. The results provide important information on the acquisition of spelling skills with this unique population and the use of narrative samples to assess spelling

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