ACQUISITION OF WORD MEANING BY CHILDREN WITH AND WITHOUT LEARNING DISABILITY
AuthorHarris, William Mateer
AdvisorKirk, Samuel A.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis study compares the performance of unilingual normal, unilingual learning-disabled, bilingual normal, and bilingual learning-disabled groups of children from 8 to 11 years of age on acquisition of word meaning tasks. The tasks were derived from the Re-cognition Function Level of Kass's theory. Initial subject selection involved using teacher judgments and an examination of school files to determine the presence of learning disability. Bilingual linguistic background was determined by teacher and parental judgments and by ability in verbal conversation to achieve a criterion of approximate equivalence between English and Spanish. Four groups of at least 15 subjects each were established, reflecting linguistic background (unilingual, bilingual) and presence of learning disability (learning-disabled, normal). Final assignment of subjects to learning-disabled and normal groups was verified by the administration of four tests and a discriminant analysis of the results. Five experimental tasks involving the acquisition of word meaning were devised and administered to the subjects. These tasks were: Task 1, Word Classification; Task 2, Word Class Labeling; Task 3, Verbal Analogies; Task 4, Synonyms and Antonyms; and Task 5, Creative Language. Task 5, Creative Language, consisted of Parts A (written) and Part B (verbal). An Abstract-Concrete Scale score and a Words per Sentence score resulted from both Part A and Part B. The results of the study were as follows: (1) Learning-disabled subjects, regardless of linguistic grouping, scored significantly lower than normal subjects on the Word Classification, Word Class Labeling, Verbal Analogies, and Synonyms and Antonyms tasks. They also scored significantly lower than normal subjects on the Creative Language Task Part A (written) and Part B (verbal), Abstract-Concrete Scale. No difference was present on the Creative Language Task, Part A (written) and Part B (verbal), Words per Sentence. (2) Bilingual subjects, regardless of the presence of learning disability, scored significantly lower than unilingual subjects on the Word Class Labeling and Verbal Analogies tasks. They scored significantly higher than unilingual subjects on the Creative Language Task, Part A (written), Words per Sentence. (3) Younger subjects scored significantly lower than older subjects on the Word Classification and Verbal Analogies tasks and on the Creative Language Task, Part A (written) and Part B (verbal), Abstract-Concrete Scale. (4) No significant interaction effect (presence of learning disability x linguistic background) was obtained on any of the tasks. The results of this study support these conclusions. First, children labeled as learning disabled have skill deficits in acquiring word meaning, with the qualification that measures of the quantity of language production do not consistently correspond to measures of the quality of language production. Second, bilingual children may appear to display deficits in the acquisition of word meaning if task selection in the secondary language (English) does not take practice factors into account. However, bilingual learning-disabled children display these deficits in both primary and secondary languages. Third, skill in the acquisition of word meaning improves across the age span of 8 to 11 years regardless of the presence of learning disability.
Degree ProgramGraduate College