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IES Grant

Title: Academic Language and Writing for Children in Kindergarten to Fourth Grade—A Longitudinal Study
Center: NCER Year: 2013
Principal Investigator: Kim, Young-Suk Awardee: University of California, Irvine
Program: Literacy      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (7/01/2013 – 6/30/2017) Award Amount: $1,600,000
Type: Exploration Award Number: R305A160408

Co-Principal Investigators: Yaacov Petscher, Christopher Schatschneider

Previous Award Number: R305A130131
Previous Awardee: Florida State University

Purpose: Writing is an important skill for communication and self-expression in school and in the workforce, but the majority of students in the United States do not write at a proficient level. Some research has suggested that early precursors to writing may be identifiable, and theory suggests oral language may be one such precursor. However, there has been very little systematic examination of association between oral language and writing development. Further, academic (or decontextualized) language may be an important skill for writing development but this also has not been examined. The goals of this exploration study are to: (1) examine the dimensionality of oral language to investigate whether academic language is a discrete construct; (2) explore the development of oral language skills and writing skills from kindergarten through fourth grade; (3) investigate how oral language skills are related to writing; and (4) examine the existence of oral language and writing skill profiles.

Project Activities: In the first part of this study, 300 kindergarten, second-, and fourth-grade students will participate in an evaluation study to identify and refine measures of academic language skills and to examine the factor structure of oral language. The second part of the study will use a cohort-sequential design to follow two groups of 300 students: the first group will be assessed in kindergarten, first, and second grades; and the second group will be assessed in second, third, and fourth grades. A variety of writing, reading, and oral language assessments will be administered to students for both parts of the study, with students in the longitudinal part receiving assessments twice per year.

Products: Products include preliminary evidence of associations between malleable oral language factors and students' writing skills. Peer-reviewed publications will also be produced.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This study will be conducted in a large, urban school district in north Florida.

Sample: Participants include approximately 900 children in kindergarten through fourth grade. For the Year 1 evaluation study, 100 students in each of kindergarten, second, and fourth grade (300 total) will participate. For the cohort-sequential study, 300 kindergarteners and 300 second-grade students will be recruited in Year 2 and followed for 2 years.

Intervention: In this exploratory study, the researchers are examining the development of oral language, academic language, and writing skills from kindergarten through fourth grade, to identify possible targets for intervention at the instructional level. The findings from the proposed study will provide critical information about the dimensionality of oral language and the associations between oral language and writing skill over time.

Research Design and Methods: To assess the dimensionality of oral language skills and to explore whether academic language is a discreet concept, researchers will administer a battery of oral language, writing, and reading assessments to 300 total students in kindergarten, second grade, and fourth grade (100 students per grade). To assess the development of oral language skills and writing, researchers will gather student assessment data two times a year (fall and spring) from two cohorts of students. The first cohort will be assessed in kindergarten, second grade, and fourth grade; and the second cohort in second, third, and fourth grade. Measures will include assessments on oral language skills, academic language skills, reading comprehension, and writing skills including transcription and comprehension.

Control Condition: Due to the nature of the research design, there is no control condition.

Key Measures: Researchers will assess students' oral language, academic language, reading, and writing skills. General oral language skills will be assessed with the Sentence Comprehension, Receptive Vocabulary, Expressive Vocabulary, and Visual Passage Retell subtests of the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test—3rd Edition (WIAT-III), the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test—4th Edition (PPVT-4), the Expressive Vocabulary Test—2nd Edition (EVT-2), the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals—4th Edition (CELF) Formulated Sentences task for receptive and productive modes, and the Test of Narrative Language (TNL). Academic language will be assessed by coding the academic language features (e.g., lexical density, embedded clauses, etc.) of the oral language production tasks (CELF Formulated Sentences; WIAT-III Visual Passage Retell; TNL), and by using definition and picture description tasks. Reading assessments will include the Word Reading subtest of the WIAT-III, the Sight Word Efficiency subtest of the Test of Word Reading Efficiency—2nd Edition (TOWRE-2), the Test of Silent Reading Efficiency and Comprehension (TOSREC), and the Reading Comprehension subtest of the Gates-MacGinintie Reading Tests—4th Edition. Writing assessments will include the Alphabet Writing, Spelling, and Paragraph Writing subtests of the WIAT-III, and a sentence copying task.

Data Analytic Strategy: A variety of analytic methods will be used to examine the data for this study. Researchers will be using structural equation modeling (SEM) as the primary analytical strategy. Specifically, to assess the dimensionality of oral language skills, the researchers will use SEM to conduct exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses. To assess trajectories of skills, the researchers will use a multiple indicator growth model to assess the development of oral language, academic language, and writing skills from kindergarten through fourth grade. The associations between these trajectories and possible moderators will also be analyzed using multiple indicator growth models. Finally, exploration of possible subgroups of children based on profiles of skills will be analyzed using finite mixture modeling.

Products and Publications

Book chapter

Kim, Y. S. G., and Pilcher, H. (2016). What Is Listening Comprehension and What Does It Take to Improve Listening Comprehension?. Interventions in Learning Disabilities (pp. 159173). Springer International Publishing.

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Kim, Y.S.G. (2017). Multicomponent View of Vocabulary Acquistion: An Investigation With Primary Grade Children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 162, 120133.

Kim, Y.S.G. (2017). Why the Simple View of Reading is not Simplistic: Unpacking Component Skills of Reading Using a Direct and Indirect Effect Model of Reading (DIER). Scientific Studies of Reading, 21(4), 310-333.

Kim, Y.S.G. (2016). Direct and Mediated Effects of Language and Cognitive Skills on Comprehension of Oral Narrative Texts (listening comprehension) for Children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 141: 101120.

Kim, Y.S.G. (2016). Do Live Versus Audio-Recorded Narrative Stimuli Influence Young Children's Narrative Comprehension and Retell Quality?. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 47(1): 7786.

Kim, Y.S.G., and Park, S.H. (2019). Unpacking Pathways Using the Direct And Indirect Effects Model of Writing (DIEW) and the Contributions of Higher Order Cognitive Skills to Writing. Reading and Writing, 32(5), 1319-1343.

Kim, Y. S. G., and Phillips, B. (2016). Five Minutes a Day to Improve Comprehension Monitoring in Oral Language Contexts: An Exploratory Intervention Study With Prekindergartners From Low-Income Families. Topics in Language Disorders, 36(4): 356367.

Kim, Y. S. G., and Schatschneider, C. (2017). Expanding the Developmental Models of Writing: A Direct and Indirect Effects Model of Developmental Writing (DIEW). Journal of Educational Psychology, 109(1): 3550.

Kim, Y.S.G., Vorstius, C., and Radach, R. (2018). Does Online Comprehension Monitoring Make a Unique Contribution to Reading Comprehension in Beginning Readers? Evidence From Eye Movements. Scientific Studies of Reading, 22(5), 367-383.

Quinn, J., Folsom, J., and Petscher, Y. (2018). Peer Effects on Vocabulary Knowledge: A Linear Quantile Mixed-Modeling Approach. Education Sciences, 8(4), 181.

Wawire, B A., and Kim, Y.S.G. (2018). Cross-Language Transfer of Phonological Awareness and Letter Knowledge: Causal Evidence and Nature of Transfer. Scientific Studies of Reading, 22(6), 443–461.