Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Lynn E. Miner


The purpose of this investigation was to determine whether differences exist among four dlfferent language sampling procedures as to measures of communicative competence. Specifically, three questions were posed:

  1. Do statistically significant differences exist among obtained LCI scores for the following procedures for evoking child language samples: (1) Toys, (2) Verbal Directives, (3) Child-generated Pictures, and (4) Radio Telemetry.
  2. If differences exist, are they manifested in: (1) Noun Phrase One, (2) Verb Phrase One, (3) Noun Phrase Two.
  3. What is the frequency of occurrence of the obtained grammatical structures for the sampling procedure yielding the highest LCI scores?

PROCEDURE. Four language samples were elicited from each of ten five-year-old children using the sampling procedures listed above. The verbal directives consisted of 15 questions to the child about himself and his environment. For the procedure utilizing toys, each child was asked to tell the examiner about nine different toys. For the child-generated pictures, each subject was trained by the examiner to use a camera, and was allowed to take a camera home and take pictures of anything he wished. A language sample was then elicited using the child's developed prints as stimuli. Utilizing a radio telemetry device required that each child wear a harness and a dummy microphone for two days for familiarization while at school, and then wear the actual microphone the third day. A 30 minute language sample was recorded from each child while he was on the school playground with his peers. The examiner elicited, transcribed, and scored all language samples. The LCI was the measure used for linguistic analysis.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION. Mean LCI scores, standard deviation, and measures of skewness and kurtosis were computed for each sampling procedure. To assess the significance of the differences in group means, a one-way analysis of variance and then six t tests compairing all possible pairs were computed. Verbal directives were found to yield mean LCI scores which were significantly higher than those of toys and radio telemetry, and statistically equivalent to those from child-generated pictures. The values for verbal directives also demonstrated the least amount of response variability, and also a closer approximation to the normal curve than the other three procedures. Six t tests were also employed to determine whether differences among sampling procedures were manifested in any of the subtest indices. Mean index scores from verbal directives were found to be either significantly higher than or statistically equivalent to those for any of the other three methods. The frequency of occurrence of subtest structures was charted for verbal directives from the Miner study (1970), and the frequency of occurrence for subtest structures from child-generated pictures from the present study was charted for comparison.


  1. The stimulus method does differentially effect verbal output, and, hence, judgments of communicative competence.
  2. For the children utilized in this investigation, verbal directives were the highest and most stable indicator of communicative competence.
  3. The similarity in structures generated in response to verbal directives and those generated in response to child-generated pictures indicates that these are probably those structures which the five-year-old should be generating appropriately to be considered on a comparable level of language development with his peers.