Morpheme Learning of Children With Specific Language Impairment Under Controlled Instructional Conditions Three groups of children were exposed to instances of a novel morpheme under controlled experimental conditions. The performance of 32 children with specific language impairment (SLI), aged 5:0 to 7:0 years (years:months), was compared to that of 24 normally developing children matched for age and nonverbal ability and 20 younger ... Research Article
Research Article  |   August 01, 1992
Morpheme Learning of Children With Specific Language Impairment Under Controlled Instructional Conditions
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Phil J. Connell
    Indiana University Bloomington
  • C. Addison Stone
    Northwestern University Evanston, IL
Article Information
Development / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 01, 1992
Morpheme Learning of Children With Specific Language Impairment Under Controlled Instructional Conditions
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 1992, Vol. 35, 844-852. doi:10.1044/jshr.3504.844
History: Received June 28, 1991 , Accepted November 15, 1991
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 1992, Vol. 35, 844-852. doi:10.1044/jshr.3504.844
History: Received June 28, 1991; Accepted November 15, 1991

Three groups of children were exposed to instances of a novel morpheme under controlled experimental conditions. The performance of 32 children with specific language impairment (SLI), aged 5:0 to 7:0 years (years:months), was compared to that of 24 normally developing children matched for age and nonverbal ability and 20 younger normally developing children matched for language development and nonverbal ability. The children were taught under two instructional conditions that differed only in whether the child was asked to imitate the new language form after each instance imitation) or just to observe its use (modeling). Consistent with past research (Connell, 1987b), the children with SLI performed significantly better under the imitation condition than under modeling, but the age-matched controls showed no difference in response to instruction. The performance of the language-matched controls was similar to that of the age-matched controls, suggesting that the instruction-specific effect for the children with SLI is not merely a function of general language immaturity. Although the superiority of the imitation condition for the children with SLI was evident for test trials requiring production of the new morpheme (as in past research), no such effect was evident for comprehension trials. This differing effect of output demands suggests that the SLI-specific response to instruction is not a matter of different mastery of the new rule but rather is specific to the need to access the newly induced rule on production trials. The accessing of phonological representations as a possible explanation for the effect is discussed.

Acknowledgments
The research reported in this paper was supported in part by a grant from NIDCD. We would like to thank ChiMing Yang for his assistance in the development of the computer programs used to implement the instruction, and Lucy Felbinger, Kalyani Krishnan, Peg Bemen, Laura Riddle, Barry Wagner, Susan Giger, Lisa Ubben, and Robin Barker for their assistance in data collection and analysis.
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