The Effects of Increased Cognitive Demands on the Written Discourse Ability of Young Adolescents Ashleigh Elaine Zumwalt Eastern Illinois University.
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The Effects of Increased Cognitive Demands on the Written Discourse Ability of Young Adolescents Ashleigh Elaine Zumwalt Eastern Illinois University
Introduction Cognitive skills such as selective attention, verbal working memory, and executive functions are necessary when planning written discourse (Wilson & Proctor, 2000). Demands on cognition such as cognitive distance, length of discourse sample, task elicitation, and the complexity of the discourse task may impact the execution of certain discourse tasks (Wilson & Proctor, 2000). Individuals with closed head injury (CHI) experienced disorders in cognitive skills such as working memory and executive functioning (Proctor, Wilson, Sanchez, and Wesley, 2000).
Introduction Moran and Gillon (2004) found that the mean performance of individuals who experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI) on language comprehension tests was inferior to the mean performance of age-matched controls. In addition, the overall performance on the tests with higher working memory demands was poorer for individuals with TBI. Shadden, Burnette, Eikenberry, and DiBrezzo (1991) found that different types of discourse elicitation placed varying demands on the individual performing the task. Therefore, more than one type of discourse should be evaluated when analyzing an individual’s discourse skills.
Research Questions Does the written discourse performance of normal adolescents vary according to the complexity of the picture stimulus? Does the written discourse performance of normal adolescents vary according to the length (cognitive distance) of the sample provided? Do the scores on cognitive tests influence the written discourse performance of normal adolescents?
Subject Selection Eight females and Nine males Ages 19:2 to 27:1 Normal Hearing Acuity Normal Visual Acuity No prior diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) No prior head injuries No prior diagnosis of a neurological disorder or deficit Scores on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, 4 th edition (PPVT-4) above one standard deviation below the mean
Methodology Researcher administered three preliminary tests to each participant: The Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, 4 th edn. (PPVT-4) The Recognition Memory Subtest of the Goldman- Fristoe-Woodcock Auditory Memory Battery The Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function- Adult Version (BRIEF-A) Each participant was presented with three picture stimuli of varying levels of complexity. Difficulty ratings of the of the three picture stimuli were based upon the number of activities that occurred in each picture. Each participant was asked to write a sample describing and explaining what was occurring in each picture stimuli. Discourse samples obtained were analyzed using procedures developed by Wilson (2000).
Subject’s Scores on Preliminary Tests Subject NumberSexAge at TestingPPVTaB1B2RMTb 1F221234347109 2F21877064106 3F21976357103 4F201044349110 5F211003561109 6M271104152108 7M221205645109 8M211015346109 9M211095960109 10F191145435108 11F201135057109 12F211135337110 13M211115137107 14M211095938105 15M241196749107 16M201145037109 17M191205444110 Mean211095347108 Note: F=Female; M=Male; PPVT=Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test 4th Ed.; a) Highest possible score=204; B1=Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function-Adult Version: Self Report; B2=Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function-Adult Version: Informant Report; RMT=Recognition Memory Test b) Highest possible score=110
Comparison of Global Coherence Across Pictures 1, 2, and 3 *A significance level of p=<.05 was used. Three Picture Stimuli Mean Global Coherence
Comparison of First Half Efficiency Across Pictures 1, 2, and 3 *A significance level of p=<.05 was used. Three Picture Stimuli Mean First Half Efficiency
Relationship between discourse measures and Gender and PPVT scores GenderPPVT Picture 1 Total Productivity.473.462 Total Efficiency.307.568 Global Coherence.362.888 Local Coherence.380.263 First Half Efficiency.023*.574 Second Half Efficiency.953.676 Picture 2 Total Productivity.566.477 Total Efficiency.915.982 Global Coherence.304.726 Local Coherence.008*.101 First Half Efficiency.563.524 Second Half Efficiency.784.515 Picture 3 Total Productivity.030*.635 Total Efficiency.095.870 Global Coherence.176.663 Local Coherence.380.217 First Half Efficiency.043*.578 Second Half Efficiency.091.398
Relationship between Discourse Measures and Working Memory and Executive Functioning (Self and Informant) Working MemoryExecutive Functioning Picture 1 SelfInformant Total Productivity.940.158.398 Total Efficiency.338.899.676 Global Coherence.586.637.366 Local Coherence.840.860.762 First Half Efficiency.857.690.715 Second Half Efficiency.360.569.625 Picture 2 Total Productivity.073.808.351 Total Efficiency.271.845.365 Global Coherence.312.871.366 Local Coherence.422.323.910 First Half Efficiency.286.429.802 Second Half Efficiency.724.747.965 Picture 3 Total Productivity.656.977.584 Total Efficiency.704.204.358 Global Coherence.965.419.179 Local Coherence.840.304.309 First Half Efficiency.779.600.290 Second Half Efficiency.475.168.303
Results Results of a one way analysis of variance (ANOVA) repeated measures for each of the six discourse measures (Total Productivity, Total Efficiency, Global Coherence, Local Coherence, First Half Efficiency, and Second Half Efficiency) revealed statistical significance for the measure of First Half Efficiency p=.005. The first half efficiency for Picture three was less efficient than Pictures one and two. In addition, statistical significance was approached for the measure of Global Coherence p=.059. The global coherence of Picture three and Picture two (the more complex pictures) was lower than the global coherence of Picture one (the least complex picture).
Results Pearson Correlations were used to determine the relationship between discourse performance and gender, PPVT scores, and cognitive measures (working memory and executive functioning). The correlation between Picture three and gender on the discourse measure of Total Productivity (p=.030*) was statistically significant. The correlation between Picture two and gender on the discourse measure of Local Coherence (p=.008*) was statistically significant. The correlations between Picture one and gender on the discourse measure of first half efficiency (p=.023*), and Picture three and gender on the discourse measure of first half efficiency (p=.043*) were statistically significant. There were no statistically significant relationships between discourse performance and PPVT scores or cognitive measures (working memory and executive functioning)
Conclusions from Research Question One: Conclusions from Research Question One: Does the written discourse performance of normal adolescents vary according to the complexity of the picture stimulus? Analysis of the results for research question one revealed that the discourse measure of global coherence approached significance (p=.059*) when compared for the three picture stimuli. Smith, et al. (2003) investigated global coherence ratings of discourse samples provided by normal young adults. They similarly found no statistically significant differences between global coherence for different types of task elicitation (picture description or personal narrative). In this study, global coherence of discourse samples did not vary significantly according to picture complexity for normal adolescents. Previous researchers, Hay and Moran (2005), Shadden, et al. (1991), and Smith et al. (2003) found that discourse performance varied when the cognitive demands of a task increased. For the discourse measures used in this study, no significant differences were found according to the varying complexity of the picture stimuli.
Conclusions from Research Question Two: Conclusions from Research Question Two: Does the written discourse performance of normal adolescents vary according to the length (cognitive distance) of the sample provided? Analysis of the results for research question two revealed that the discourse measure of first half efficiency was significant (p=.005*) when compared for the three picture stimuli. The first half efficiency for Picture three was less efficient than Pictures one and two. Since Picture three was more cognitively complex than Pictures one and two, it was hypothesized that ideas were more difficult to develop for the more complex pictured stimulus. Pictures one and two were the least complex pictures of the three stimuli, and yielded discourse samples with increased efficiency on the first halves of the samples. Previous research studies did not compare the first half efficiency across different picture stimuli.
Conclusions from Research Question Three: Conclusions from Research Question Three: Do the scores on cognitive tests influence the written discourse performance of normal adolescents? Analysis of the results for research question three revealed that the correlations between Gender and Total Productivity (Picture three p=.030*), and Local Coherence (Picture two p=.008*), and First Half Efficiency (Picture one p=.023*, and Picture three p=.043*) were statistically significant. The male participants achieved higher local coherence ratings on Picture two than the female participants, but were less productive on Picture three, and less efficient on Pictures one and three than the females. Previous findings from researchers such as Mackenzie, et al. (2007), and Smith, et al. (2003) did not find a significant relationship between Gender and various measures of discourse performance.
Limitations and Strengths of the Research Limitations The range of cognitive scores was narrow because all participants were college students Researcher was test administrator introducing possibility of researcher bias Testing sessions were not videotaped or recorded to ensure measurement accuracy Strengths Inferential statistics used to assess data Standardized test procedures utilized for preliminary tests
Future Research Needs To further investigate the impact of cognitive demands on the discourse performance of normals, a larger group of participants should be sampled. To further investigate if a broader range of educational backgrounds should be included to increase the range of cognitive skill scores. To further investigate the influence of gender on written discourse performance. To further investigate the discourse measure of first half efficiency and second half efficiency across three picture stimuli.
References Hay, E., & Moran, C. (2005). Discourse formulation in children with closed head injury. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 14, 324-336. Mackenzie, C., Brady, M., Norrie, J., & Poedjianto, N. (2007). Picture description in neurologically normal adults: Concepts and topic coherence. Aphasiology, 21(3/4), 340-354. Moran, C. & Gillon, G. (2004). Language and memory profiles of adolescents with traumatic brain injury. Brain Injury, 18, 273-288. Proctor, A., Wilson, B., Sanchez, C., & Wesley, E. (2000). Executive function and verbal working memory in adolescents with closed head injury (CHI). Brain Injury, 14, 633-647. Shadden, B. B., Burnette, R. B., Eikenberry, B. R., & DiBrezzo, R. (1991). All discourse tasks are not created equal. Clinical Aphasiology, 20, 327-341. Smith, R., Heuerman, M., Wilson, B. M., & Proctor, A. (2003). Analysis of normal discourse patterns. Brain and Cognition, 53, 368-371. Wilson, B. M., & Proctor, A. (2000). Oral and written discourse in adolescents with closed head injury. Brain and cognition, 43, 425- 429.