Theses Doctoral

Factors Influencing Language and Reading Development in Young Children with Hearing Loss who use Listening and Spoken Language

Smolen, Elaine

This dissertation comprised three studies investigating early language and reading development of children with hearing loss who used listening and spoken language. The first study examined conversation techniques used by parents during dinnertimes at home with their preschool children with hearing loss (N = 37). Twenty-minute dinnertime segments were extracted from daylong, naturalistic Language ENvironment Analysis (LENA) recordings. Transcripts were coded for parents’ use of open- and closed-ended language elicitation, reformulation, imitation, directives, and explicit instruction in vocabulary and grammar. Participants’ receptive vocabulary and knowledge of basic concepts were also measured. Parents’ use of conversation techniques varied widely, with closed-ended elicitations and directives used most frequently during dinner. Open-ended language elicitation related significantly to children’s receptive vocabulary, and explicit vocabulary instruction was correlated with basic-concepts skills. Thematic analysis found common themes of concrete conversation topics and sibling speakers. In addition, parents who used many techniques often introduced abstract conversation topics; electronic media was present in all conversations with few techniques.

The second study investigated the longitudinal complexity and quantity of the language input and output of 14 preschool children with hearing loss. Participants’ receptive vocabulary and understanding of basic concepts were measured and daylong recordings were collected at two time points one year apart. Twenty-minute dinnertime segments were extracted from each recording, and adults’ and children’s utterances were coded for syntactic and clausal complexity and lexical diversity. The quantity and complexity of parental language input remained consistent over one year. The initial clausal complexity of the children’s utterances related to their general receptive vocabulary, while the initial syntactic complexity of the children’s utterances related to their understanding of basic concepts one year later.

The third study explored the reading skills achieved by 64 children with hearing loss in prekindergarten through third grade. Participants’ mean scores on eight reading subtests of the Woodcock-Johnson IV Tests of Achievement were all within one standard deviation of the tests’ normative means. Relative strengths were found in basic reading skills, including phonological awareness and spelling. Relative weaknesses were found in oral reading and word- and sentence-reading fluency. When 53 participants’ skills were measured one year later, they had made significant gains in letter-word identification, sentence-reading fluency, and word-reading fluency, suggesting that they had made more than one year’s progress in one year’s time while enrolled in a specialized program.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Physical Disabilities
Thesis Advisors
Wang, Ye
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 1, 2020