Another Look at Nonverbal Rule Induction in Children With SLI Testing a Flexible Reconceptualization Hypothesis Research Article
Research Article  |   February 01, 1997
Another Look at Nonverbal Rule Induction in Children With SLI
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Barbara Kiernan
    The University of Arizona Tucson
  • David Snow
    The University of Arizona Tucson
  • Linda Swisher
    The University of Arizona Tucson
  • Rebecca Vance
    The University of Arizona Tucson
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: B82066@CCIT.ARIZONA.EDU
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   February 01, 1997
Another Look at Nonverbal Rule Induction in Children With SLI
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 1997, Vol. 40, 75-82. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4001.75
History: Received January 24, 1996 , Accepted August 7, 1996
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 1997, Vol. 40, 75-82. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4001.75
History: Received January 24, 1996; Accepted August 7, 1996

This study focuses on the ability of preschool children with specific language impairment (SLI) to extract target regularities from recurring nonverbal stimuli. As a step beyond previous methodologies, we also assessed their ability to shift and extract other regularities after feedback indicated that their choices were no longer correct. This step was motivated by Connell and Stone's (1994) hypothesis that difficulties manifested by children with SLI in extracting nonverbal "rules" from multiple problem sets may reflect difficulties in "flexible reconceptualization," that is, in the ability to flexibly shift across regularities. Thirty 4- and 5-year-olds with SLI and 30 age-matched children developing language normally participated in a discrimination learning-shift paradigm. Findings indicated that both language groups were successful in extracting regularities and making shifts. In fact, language groups did not differ in number of regularities extracted, number of shifts completed, or trials to criterion. As a consequence, findings failed to provide evidence that children with SLI are limited in either the ability to extract nonverbal regularities or to flexibly reconceptualize them. From a larger theoretical perspective, the findings fail to support theories positing that generalized "rule-induction" deficits underlie the verbal and nonverbal impairments of SLI.

Acknowledgments
This research was funded in part by U.S. Department of Education grant Nos. H029D90108 and H023C40118-95 and by the Tucson Scottish Rite Charitable Foundation. We would like to thank participants of the Child Language Center's doctoral seminar for their insightful comments on this paper. We also extend our appreciation to the Scottish Rite volunteers who made the stimulus materials for this task.
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