Jennifer Dodd

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences


Speech Pathology and Audiology

First Advisor

Dr. Yvette D. Hyter

Second Advisor

Dr. Nicki Nelson

Third Advisor

Adelia VanMeter

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The pragmatic behaviors and competency levels of typically developing (TD) and high risk (HR) African American preschool children were assessed through the use of the Pragmatic Coding System (PCS, Hyter & Dodd, 1999). Ten children were videotaped within two play settings (i.e., dramatic play and manipulative toy play) for a total of twenty minutes. Results indicated that TD and HR children used the same types of pragmatic behaviors in both play settings. Frequency differences, however, were found between the two groups. Typically developing children produced a significantly greater number of initiations, total responses, multi word responses, one word responses, no responses, and comments. Play setting differences revealed that HR children produced significantly fewer initiations, comments, and protests during manipulative toy play and fewer comments, yes/no responses, one word responses, and multiword responses during dramatic play.

Pragmatic competency levels were assessed on a three-point scale. Results indicated a significantly lower overall score for the high risk children for combined play settings. These children also received a lower score for manipulative play but scored equally well as their typically developing peers during dramatic play.