Theses Doctoral

Effect of Communication Mode on Story Recall

Hartman, Maria C.

Most learning occurs in social contexts through interaction with other people. Such learning is possible only when individuals are able to communicate with understanding. Currently, the most commonly used mode of communication for instruction in schools for the deaf in the United States is a bimodal form of signs and speech referred to as “simultaneous communication” (SIMCOM). Numerous studies have addressed the practicability of teachers’ attempts to produce this mode for instruction, but fewer have attempted to understand its impact on deaf children’s comprehension. This study examined the effect of communication mode on story recall performance in thirty-six 11- to 14-year-old deaf students. Participants were presented with a series of short stories “bimodally” (using simultaneous sign and speech/SIMCOM) and “unimodally” (using sign only) and then asked to recall whatever they could remember.
A within-subjects analysis was used to examine the differences in recall scores as a function of communication mode. Analysis of secondary variables was included to note effects on the dependent variable. Mode of participants’ response was also coded and analyzed. Results of the study showed statistically significant differences in the mean story-retell scores between the two conditions, with participants scoring higher during the sign-only condition than in the SIMCOM condition. Age, gender, pure-tone average, type of hearing-assistive technology (hearing aids or cochlear implants), and home language did not affect overall retell scores, except that older students performed slightly better than did younger students. Standardized reading scores were strongly correlated with retell scores in both conditions, suggesting that these students had higher overall language skills. Most participants responded using a sign-only mode, and this was taken to mean that sign only was the dominant mode for these participants.
These results provide support for the idea that for these deaf participants, simultaneously received speech and sign messages may have compromised comprehension by competing for limited attentional resources. In this study, attempts at comprehension of SIMCOM may be evidence of the redundancy principle, which states that attention is split when the same information is presented in multiple modalities. Continued research on deaf students’ ability to integrate simultaneously presented auditory and visual language is suggested.



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More About This Work

Academic Units
Physical Disabilities
Thesis Advisors
Wang, Ye
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 9, 2015