The study was conducted in early childhood programs in four elementary schools in the Washoe County School District in Reno, Nevada.
The study included 3- to 5-year-old children with morphosyntax and phonological impairments.
To be eligible, the children had to meet the following criteria:
(a) speech performance at least one standard deviation below the mean on the Bankson-
Bernthal Test of Phonology;
(b) expressive language scores at least one standard deviation below the mean on the
Preschool Language Scale 3 or the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals–
Preschool, or a score for mean length of utterances in morphemes greater than one
and one-half standard deviations below the mean;
(c) nonverbal cognitive functioning within one and one-half standard deviations from the
mean on the Columbia Mental Maturity Scale;
(d) normal functioning on oral motor assessment; and
(e) normal functioning on neurological, behavioral, hearing, and motor skills.
Twenty children (18 boys and two girls) were randomly assigned to either phonological awareness
training or a morphosyntactic intervention.
Children in the intervention group received phonological awareness training in weekly 30-minute
group individual and 45-minute group sessions with clinicians over a 12-week period. Children were
given four goals based on their initial speech and language results (e.g., phonetic inventory,
sound classes affected). The goals were rotated and targeted three times over the 12-week
period. The intervention included auditory awareness activities (such as listening to word
lists and books that frequently used a targeted sound), conceptual activities (contrasting
and classifying sounds), production practice (drills and imitation of phonetic placement), and
phonological awareness activities (rhyme, sound identification). The intervention also included
“naturalistic” activities, in which the clinician provided the child with opportunities to produce
targeted sounds during conversations. The information in this report examined the children at
the end of the 12-week block. As part of a larger study, children were then given the opposite
intervention for another 12-week period (i.e., children receiving the phonological awareness
training program in the first 12 weeks received the morphosyntactic intervention in the second
12-week period). The information for this additional contrast is not reported in this report, as
this would only demonstrate intervention ordering effects. That is, the assessment at the 24-week
period would only illustrate the effects of receiving the phonological awareness training first
and then the morphosyntactic intervention second, relative to receiving morphosyntactic
training first and then phonological awareness training second, and would only illustrate the
effectiveness of the ordering of the interventions, not the independent effects of the interventions
Children in the comparison group received the morphosyntactic intervention over the same 12-week period, with weekly 30-minute individual and 45-minute group sessions with clinicians.
As with the intervention condition, children were given four goals, which were rotated
and targeted three times during the 12-week period. For the morphosyntactic intervention, the
goals were based on morphemes that the child produced with less than 50% accuracy during
pretest. However, preference was given to goals that were similar for all children in the group, so
the 50% accuracy rule was not always followed. The comparison group program used themes
of food, animals, and water. The comparison condition included auditory awareness activities
(books and songs with opportunities to produce the target sounds), focused stimulation activities
(expansions of the children’s utterances), and elicited production activities (to encourage the
use of target morphemes). Clinicians decreased their support over the 12-week period.
Three eligible outcomes of children’s language were used. Two of the measures were based
measurement on the final consonant clusters: regular past tense and contractible copula. The third
was an inventory of final consonants. For a more detailed description of these outcome measures,
see Appendix B.
Support for implementation
Both the phonological awareness training and morphosyntactic interventions were led by four
graduate student interns and four certified speech-language pathologists. No other information