Cassandra Foust

Scholar: Cassandra Foust

Cassandra Foust

Major: Speech Pathology and Audiology

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Lori Bass

Research Topic: "Analysis of Children's Narrative Complexity Following Repeated Storybook Reading and Grammatical Instruction"

Abstract: Children's ability to tell well-developed stories or narratives by the time they enter school is a crucial aspect of language development. Being able to retell or generate narratives with identifiable characters, plots, and endings is requisite to academic success in today's public schools (Naremore, Densmore, & Harmon, 1995).

Children's narratives ability at school entry is dependent upon their home culture, their exposure to books and stories within the community, and their socioeconomic status (SES). Children from low SES homes and/or from non-mainstream culture backgrounds often come to school with little to no familiarity with mainstream culture narrative styles and structures (Dickenson & Tabors, 2001). This poster will present the results of a grammar instructional program on children's narrative complexity.

Seven children from LSES homes who attended a Head Start program in the Southeast actively participated in a 15-minute pre-recorded, automated "School English" grammar instructional program embedded in storybooks. The program focused on four grammatical structures that differ between Standard American English and African American English (i.e., Wh-questions, negation, regular past tense -ed, 3rd person singular -s). Using a multiple baseline design across behaviors, instruction continued for 11 weeks (3 weeks in baseline phase; 8 weeks of instruction).

Children read the same storybook for 4 days and then were asked to retell the story on the 5th day. Participants' narratives were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim, and story grammar elements were coded using the taxonomies developed by Applebee (1978) and Stein and Glenn (1979). Results indicated that these participants consistently and readily increased the complexity of their narratives over the course of instruction, often exceeding the complexity of the storybooks themselves by the end of the program. Embedding grammar activities into storybooks appears to be an effective way to improve narrative complexity in children from LSES homes.

Earned Baccalaureate Degree: spring 2010

Earned Masters Degree: Spring 2012, Speech Language Pathology, Syracuse University