With the unofficial arrival of the golden months (IMO), it’s time to launch another summer study series. The goal is to provide a digestible view of some current research on intervention and assessment of narrative and expository language. As always, each post will have a tech tie-in and an easy-to-use resource as well.
I actually had to do a double-check on my first meta-analysis blog because the following research was so similar in title to one I reviewed last year! However, it’s great to have another resource due to the publication of this study, Investigating Narrative Performance in Children With Developmental Language Disorder: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (Winters, Jasso, Pustejovsky & Byrd, 2022). “Thus the story grammar model appears to be a valid representation of how individuals organize story information in order to encode, understand and retrieve stories.”
Nice. Here’s another mention of Story Grammar Marker® by name in peer-reviewed research: “...recent research demonstrates direct instruction in story grammar is an effective method for narrative intervention for school-age children” (e.g., Story Grammar Marker; Pico et al., 2021).
The Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research is more technical than some publications, but I’ve provided some salient points below. Go ahead and add this to your Evidence-Based Practice “binder” and share with colleagues!
One way this study differs from the previously discussed meta-analysis is that it focuses on assessment rather than intervention. Among its aims are looking at different narrative measures such as macrostructure, microstructure, and internal state language, and identifying which may have a better sensitivity in identifying developmental language disorder (DLD).
The article mentions that narrative assessment is “a potentially inconsistent and underutilized measure of language assessment,” to which I say, PREACH. Sadly, it’s still too often that I read a speech and language evaluation in which narrative is not addressed at all.
The paper identified macrostructure, and story grammar in particular, as effective in distinguishing typical language development (TD) from DLD, as demonstrated in several tools such as the Edmonton Narrative Norms Instrument and the Test of Narrative Language Content Score. I am excited to have found out about the ENNI! It can provide a normed score along with your use of developmental stages as provided in your SGM® Manual or expanded tools such as the Data Collection and Progress Monitoring toolkit.
“Internal state language, which draws on both macrostructure and microstructure, did not arise as an area of difficulty for children with DLD compared to their TD peers.” However, the study acknowledges that this area has been less-frequently researched. Additionally, this did not account for the importance of assessing the use of language related to feelings and thoughts in disorder areas such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). More significant in identifying DLD were analyses within narrative samples of grammatical accuracy such as percent morphological errors and verb accuracy, so it was recommended that these be part of narrative assessments.
For a quick related tech tip, check out the recent additions to resources at Columbia University’s Leaders Project and their School-Age Narrative Assessment Measures (SLAM). These now include preschool activities tapping prediction skills, but which also begin with a basic elicitation of the “story” being pictured, and therefore could be used to identify story grammar use.
Sean Sweeney, MS, MEd, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and technology specialist working in private practice at the Ely Center in Needham, MA, and consults to local and national organizations on technology integration in speech and language interventions. His blog, SpeechTechie (www.speechtechie.com), looks at technology "through a language lens." Contact him at email@example.com.
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