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Assessing Story Comprehension in Preschool Children

Skarakis-Doyle, Elizabeth PhD; Dempsey, Lynn PhD

doi: 10.1097/01.TLD.0000318934.54548.7f
Article

Many of the foundational abilities that are necessary for learning to read emerge in preschool children's oral language in advance of formal literacy instruction. This is not only true of phonemic awareness skills but also true of oral language comprehension, particularly of stories. Thus, clinical evaluation of preschoolers' story comprehension abilities is an important part of a preliteracy assessment. Ensuring that the outcomes of these evaluations accurately reflect children's abilities and lead to optimal clinical decisions requires familiarity with the available tools, their task demands, and psychometric properties. To provide clinicians with information necessary for making evidence-based choices in their assessment of story comprehension, we review the development of story comprehension in young children with and without language impairment. We then describe the procedures, both traditional and novel, that have been used to measure early story comprehension, assessing strengths and limitations.

From the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada (Dr Skarakis-Doyle); and the Department of Applied Linguistics, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada (Dr Dempsey).

Corresponding author: Elizabeth Skarakis-Doyle, PhD, School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada N6G 1H1 (e-mail: eskaraki@uwo.ca).

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins