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A systems approach to assessing child language

Gerard, K.A. (1992). A systems approach to assessing child language. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


In this project, a unit of measurement was created for assessing the development of communicative competence in children between the ages of one to seven years. This unit of measurement differs from other assessments as it investigates the child's pattern of performance of developing language and language related behaviour within various communicative contexts. The underlying theory that the unit of measurement was created from is the Communicative Competence Model which views language development as part of a complex system. Within this complex system a child's pattern of performance is generated by variable context sensitive rules. The Rasch model of test construction was used as the psychometric analysis for the unit of measurement. This mathematical model uses an algebraic formula to transform the item and person scores into an interval scale. Both item calibrations and person measures are located on the scale. It is through the locating of the child's pattern of performance on this scale that the child's discrete language abilities are assessed as part of a complex system. The unit of measurement was then used to assess two children with language learning difficulties. Case study one was longitudinal and demonstrated the unit of measurement's ability to statistically relate test scores which were obtained on test forms designed with different tasks that pertained specifically to different age groups. Case study two was of a child who demonstrated a unique pattern of development and highlighted the need for profiling patterns of performance in communicative contexts and in different ability dimensions. The unit of measurement provides the means for combining the benefits of both descriptive and psychometric assessments in one method of analysis. It was shown to be useful in assessing children's communicative competence and, now, can be used as the basis for developing standardised tests. Throughout this project, communicative competence has been viewed as part of a complex system and a systems approach to problem solving has been adopted.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics > RJ101 Child Health. Child health services
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Language & Communication Science
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
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