Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Nickola W. Nelson

Second Advisor

Dr. Amy Curtis

Third Advisor

Mrs. Adelia Van Meter

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only


This descriptive research study was designed to compare two 10-minute constrained written language sampling methods as well as a one-hour original story composition task, and to identify valid, reliable, objective measurement techniques that can be used efficiently by clinicians to assess syntactic maturity of written composition samples in school-age children. The primary aim of this study was to determine if one of the methods was preferable due to sensitivity to grade-level growth in syntactic maturity. Students were from 2nd , 4th 6th and 9th grades in an urban or rural school district. Each student completed three sampling tasks (Sentence Combining, Graphic Organizer, Original Story). The written compositions were evaluated using four clinician-friendly syntactic measurement techniques, one syntactically sophisticated measurement technique, and one clinician-friendly productivity measure. The Sentence Combining task appeared to be a preferable method for obtaining written language samples, due to a trend for scores to increase with advancing grade-level and a significant growth in scores between all grades on three measurement techniques (Total Words, Total Conjunctions, and Type of Conjunction).

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