Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences


Speech Pathology and Audiology

First Advisor

Dr. Nickola W. Nelson

Second Advisor

Dr. Lucille Hess

Third Advisor

Dr. Michael Clark

Fourth Advisor

Dr. David Dynak

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


This study was designed to compare the pragmatic skills of adolescents with and without learning disabilities as measured by a dramatization task. Seventeen high school students with learning disabilities and 17 normal-achieving high school students participated in this study. Twenty scenes were presented verbally to the participants who were instructed to act out the part of a character in each scene, making up the dialogue to fit the scene. The responses were scored for their pragmatic appropriateness and linguistic quality. Task reliability and validity analyses indicated that the dramatization task was an effective measure of key aspects of pragmatic skills.

Students with learning disabilities scored significantly lower for each of three pragmatic scores ( comprehension of the key concept, linguistic completeness, and paralinguistic and nonlinguistic appropriateness), while taking significantly longer to complete the task. With regard to linguistic quality, no significant differences were found between the two groups' for the three linguistic quality measures, mean length of utterance, number of different words, and total number of words.