Maternal Education and Measures of Early Speech and Language The present study was designed to determine whether 4 measures of children’s spontaneous speech and language differed according to the educational level of the children’s mothers. Spontaneous language samples from 240 three-year-old children were analyzed to determine mean length of utterance in morphemes (MLUm), number of different words (NDW), total ... Research Article
Research Article  |   December 01, 1999
Maternal Education and Measures of Early Speech and Language
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Christine A. Dollaghan
    University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA
  • Thomas F. Campbell
    Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA
  • Jack L. Paradise
    Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA
  • Heidi M. Feldman
    Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA
  • Janine E. Janosky
    University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA
  • Dayna N. Pitcairn
    Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA
  • Marcia Kurs-Lasky
    University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: dollagha@csd.upmc.edu
Article Information
Hearing Disorders / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / School-Based Settings / Normal Language Processing / Language Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 01, 1999
Maternal Education and Measures of Early Speech and Language
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1999, Vol. 42, 1432-1443. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4206.1432
History: Received September 14, 1998 , Accepted April 30, 1999
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1999, Vol. 42, 1432-1443. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4206.1432
History: Received September 14, 1998; Accepted April 30, 1999

The present study was designed to determine whether 4 measures of children’s spontaneous speech and language differed according to the educational level of the children’s mothers. Spontaneous language samples from 240 three-year-old children were analyzed to determine mean length of utterance in morphemes (MLUm), number of different words (NDW), total number of words (TNW), and percentage of consonants correct (PCC). A norm-referenced, knowledge-dependent measure of language comprehension, the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test–Revised (PPVT–R), was also included for purposes of comparison with the spontaneous measures. Three levels of maternal education were compared: less than high school graduate, high school graduate, and college graduate. Trend analyses showed statistically significant linear trends across educational levels for MLUm, NDW, TNW, and PPVT–R; the trend for PCC was not significant. The relationship of maternal education and other sociodemographic variables to measures of children’s language should be examined before using such measures to identify children with language disorders.

KEY WORDS: child language disorders, child language development, child language assessment, test bias, maternal education

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by Grant HD26026 from the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development and the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, by Grant DC01858 from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, and by gifts from SmithKline Beecham Laboratories and Pfizer Inc. We are indebted to the pediatricians at our several study sites who at no small inconvenience and cost have provided unflagging support for study activities, in particular, Amelia V. Agustin, Harold A. Altman, Bradley J. Bradford, David J. Cahill, Mark Diamond, James K. Greenbaum, Kenneth R. Keppel, K. Gopalkrishna Pai, Harvey M. Rubin, James Scibilia, Thomas D. Skelly, Scott L. Tyson, Donald J. Vigliotti, Julius A. Vogel, Jr., Eva A. Vogeley, and Celeste J. Welkon. Study team members D. Kathleen Colborn, Howard E. Rockette, and Clyde G. Smith provided valuable assistance, as did transcription team members Robert Allen, Kari Copper, Kristen Dambach, Christine Gable Colantoni, Lisa Gamrat, Rachel Goodman, Maribeth Hayes, Tara Jackson, Sheryl Kaufhold, Jennifer Mason, Robert Masterson, Dana Raubenstrauch, Tonia Sacca, Diana Saveriano, Andrea Schwartz, Gina Shongo, Beth Simari, Lakeya Smith, Deborah Speicher, James White, and Dawn Zeis. We also thank Lawrence D. Shriberg and Jon F. Miller for their contributions to this work. An earlier version of this work was presented at the 1998 Symposium on Research in Child Language Disorders at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
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