Article/Report  |   December 2006
The Dimensionality of Language Ability in School-Age Children
 
Author Notes
  • Contact author: J. Bruce Tomblin, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242. E-mail: j-tomblin@uiowa.edu.
Article Information
Development / Language Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language
Article/Report   |   December 2006
The Dimensionality of Language Ability in School-Age Children
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2006, Vol. 49, 1193-1208. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2006/086)
History: Received April 21, 2005 , Accepted March 9, 2006
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2006, Vol. 49, 1193-1208. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2006/086)
History: Received April 21, 2005; Accepted March 9, 2006
Web of Science® Times Cited: 24

Purpose: This study asked if children’s performance on language tests reflects different dimensions of language and if this dimensionality changes with development.

Method: Children were given standardized language batteries at kindergarten and at second, fourth, and eighth grades. A revised modified parallel analysis was used to determine the dimensionality of these items at each grade level. A confirmatory factor analysis was also performed on the subtest scores to evaluate alternate models of dimensionality.

Results: The revised modified parallel analysis revealed a single dimension across items with evidence of either test specific or language area specific minor dimensions at different ages. The confirmatory factor analysis tested models involving modality (receptive or expressive) and domain (vocabulary or sentence use) against a single-dimension model. The 2-dimensional model involving domains of vocabulary and sentence use fit the data better than the single-dimensional model; however, the single-dimension model also fit the data well in the lower grades.

Conclusions: Much of the variance in standardized measures of language appears to be attributable to a single common factor or trait. There is a developmental trend during middle childhood for grammatical abilities and vocabulary abilities to become differentiated. These measures do not provide differential information concerning receptive and expressive abilities.

Acknowledgment
This study was supported by National Institutes of Health Contract DC-19-90 from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and by a clinical research center grant (P0-DC-02748), which is also from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. The conduct of this study was aided considerably by a valuable research team comprising Marlea O’Brien, Paula Buckwalter, Juanita Limas, Connie Ferguson, Jodi Schwirtz, Amy Schminke, and Marsha St. Clair.
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