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Written Expression of College Students With and Without Dyslexia and ADHD


Discourse Complexity in the Expository Essays of University Students With and ... Reference Elaboration ('wh' relative clauses: subject, object, pied piping) ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Written Expression of College Students With and Without Dyslexia and ADHD

Written Expression of College Students With and
Without Dyslexia and ADHD
  • Chris Coleman, M.A.
  • Noel Gregg, Ph.D.
  • Donald Rubin, Ph.D.
  • J. Mark Davis, Ph.D.
  • Robert B. Stennett, M.S.
  • The University of Georgia
  • British Dyslexia Association 2001

Studies Presented
  • Discourse Complexity in the Expository Essays of
    University Students With and Without Dyslexia and
  • Assessment of Vocabulary and Verbosity in the
    Expository Essays of University Students With and
    Without Dyslexia and ADHD

Effects of Spelling Mistakes
  • Young kids watch TV and see people who live in
    milion dollar homes, drive Ferries, and spend
    money like theres no tomorrow.
  • Walk into any church on a Saturday and you can
    find two people exchanging rings and vowels.
  • Im proud of the work I did as a candy stripper
    at St. Mareys Hospital.

Research Questions
  • Beyond overt surface errors (e.g., misspellings),
    are there other differences between the essays of
    adults with dyslexia /- ADHD and the essays of
    adults without disabilities?
  • Why do students with disabilities receive poorer
    marks on essays than their normal peers do?
  • What accommodations are appropriate for
    university students with dyslexia /- ADHD during
    in-class writing assignments/exams?

  • Group 1 (n77) diagnosed with dyslexia (LD)
  • Group 2 (n44) diagnosed with attention-deficit/
    hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Group 3 (n52) diagnosed with both dyslexia and
    ADHD (comorbid)
  • Group 4 (n90) no history of diagnosis, special
    education, or learning problems (normal)

Identification of Subjects
  • Groups 1-3 University students evaluated at the
    UGA Regents Center for Learning Disorders
    following a comprehensive (12-hour) assessment
    and in accordance with Georgia Regents criteria
  • Group 4 UGA students enrolled in undergraduate
    speech communications courses

  • Writing Task (30 min.)
  • Vocabulary Counts
  • Linguistic Variable Counts (54)
  • Impressionistic Quality Ratings
  • IQ Estimate
  • WRAT-3 (Spelling)
  • SAT Scores, GPA
  • Demographic Information

Refinement of Subject Pool
  • Initial n 325
  • Controlled for
  • Native language (English)
  • Educational level (college)
  • Learning history (no indication of learning or
    attention problems in Group 4)
  • Writing instruction (passed English 101/1101)
  • Estimated intelligence (average to high average
  • Final n 261

Characteristics of Sample
Writing Samples
  • 30 minutes, standardized instructions
  • Sample prompt Discuss a major problem in high
    schools today and how it could be corrected.
  • Processing of essays
  • All subjects assigned arbitrary identification
  • Essays word-processed exactly as written
  • Corrected version of each essay created in
    order to eliminate spelling mistakes, punctuation
    errors, and possibility of handwriting bias

Impressionistic Quality Ratings
  • Multiple raters (acceptable ICC estimates,
  • Georgia Regents rating formula applied to
    corrected essays by highly experienced raters
  • Content/organization (1-4) (x2)
  • Style (1-4)
  • Conventions (1-4)
  • Sentence Structure (1-4)
  • ? ? ?
  • Overall Quality (5-20 points per rater)

Impressionistic Rating Results
Intercorrelations of Rating Scales
Study 1 Discourse Complexity
  • Purpose 1 To determine the frequency of specific
    syntactical/grammatical features in expository
    essays and the relationships of selected features
    to verbosity and quality
  • Purpose 2 To compare feature patterns across
    Groups 1-4

Quantitative Linguistic Analysis
  • Corrected essay files tagged by Bibers
    computerized analysis program (identification of
    the grammatical category and function of each
    lexical item)
  • Initial results checked and edited (fixtagging)
  • 54 linguistic features quantified
  • Word counts, type-token ratios also generated
  • All frequency counts adjusted to 1,000-word text
  • Means and SDs obtained for each group

Structural Equation Modeling
  • SEM Causal modeling in which The measured
    variables are used to make up latent variables
    and the main focus of the analysis is on the
    causal relations (the paths) between the latent
    variables... (Aron 1997)
  • Four-factor model applied
  • High degree of fit achieved with Group 4

Four-Factor Model
  • Time (past tense, perfect aspect, stative be)
  • Reference Elaboration (wh relative clauses
    subject, object, pied piping)
  • Reduction (do as pro-verb, it, indefinite
  • Framing Elaboration (attributive adjectives,

Downstream Factor/Variables
  • Verbosity
  • Fluency (word count)
  • Type/Token Ratio (TTR)
  • Quality (based on impressionistic ratings)

(No Transcript)
Study 1 Results
  • Factor structure consistent across groups
  • Factor loadings vary as a function of group
  • Groups using the same linguistic structures, but
    in different distributions

Study 2 Vocabulary, Verbosity
  • Purpose 1 To compare several quantitative
    methods of estimating vocabulary sophistication
  • Purpose 2 To determine the importance of
    vocabulary and verbosity to quality
  • Purpose 3 To compare regression patterns across
    Groups 1-4

Vocabulary Counts
  • Initial type/token counts generated by
    concordance program, then refined by hand
  • Additional counts
  • Greater than 2 syllables (tokens, types)
  • Greater than 3 syllables (tokens, types)
  • Uncommon (freq rank gt100) words (tokens, types)
  • Percentage of uncommon types
  • Word length (from Biber CBA computer program)
  • Length-adjusted counts also calculated
  • (raw score) x (1000/tokens)
  • Primary, reliability raters (ICC estimates

Best Model for Predicting Quality(verbosity as
step 1)
Best Model Applied to Each Group
Group Differences (Verbosity, Vocabulary)
Study 2 Results
  • Verbosity strongest quality predictor
    (dyslexics fluency ADHD efficiency)
  • Lexical sophistication/diversity (like verbosity)
    even more predictive of quality among dyslexic,
    ADHD writers than among general college sample
  • Despite spelling/proofreading help, writers with
    disabilities still rated significantly lower on
    all scales
  • Identification/accommodation hints
    (dyslexic and ADHD writers work quite

Data Related to Example Essays
Answers to Research Questions
  • Group differences in fluency, syntax, semantics,
    and quality evident despite
    spelling/proofreading assistance
  • Primary reason for poor essay marks
    insufficient productivity
  • Accommodation options extended time spelling
    and proofreading help thesaurus (consider
    individual strengths/needs)

Ongoing/Future Research
  • Impressionistic ratings of uncorrected essays
  • Relationships among different proxy counts
    (uncommon, syllables, Greco-Latinate)
  • Group differences related to other types of word
    knowledge (spelling, receptive vocabulary)
  • Discriminant analysis (identifying groups)

Contact Information
  • Chris Coleman
  • 335 Milledge Hall
  • University of Georgia
  • Athens, GA 30602
  • ccoleman_at_arches.uga.edu
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