No AccessAmerican Journal of Speech-Language PathologyResearch Article1 May 2010

Properties of the Narrative Scoring Scheme Using Narrative Retells in Young School-Age Children


    To evaluate the clinical utility of the narrative scoring scheme (NSS) as an index of narrative macrostructure for young school-age children.


    Oral retells of a wordless picture book were elicited from 129 typically developing children, ages 5–7. A series of correlations and hierarchical regression equations were completed using microstructural measures of vocabulary and grammar to predict NSS scores.


    While the NSS was significantly correlated with age and each of the microstructural measures, the hierarchical regression analyses revealed a unique relationship between vocabulary and narrative macrostructure.


    The NSS is an efficient and informative tool for documenting children’s development of narrative macrostructure. The relationship between the NSS and microstructural measures demonstrates that it is a robust measure of children’s overall oral narrative competence and a powerful tool for clinicians and researchers. The unique relationship between lexical diversity and the NSS confirmed that a special relationship exists between vocabulary and narrative organization skills in young school-age children.


    • Allen, M., Kertoy, M., Sherblom, J., & Pettit, J. (1994). Children’s narrative productions: A comparison of personal event and fictional stories.Applied Psycholinguistics, 15, 149–176.
    • Applebee, A. (1978). The child’s concept of story: Ages two to seven. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
    • Bamberg, M., & Damrad-Frye, R. (1991). On the ability to provide evaluative comments: Further explorations of children’s narrative competencies.Journal of Child Language, 18, 689–710.
    • Berman, R. (1988). On the ability to relate events in narrative.Discourse Processes, 11, 469–497.
    • R. Berman, & D. Slobin (Eds.), 1994). Relating events in narrative: A crosslinguistic developmental study. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
    • Bishop, D., & Donlan, C. (2005). The role of syntax in encoding and recall of pictorial narratives: Evidence from specific language impairment.British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 23, 25–46.
    • Bishop, D., & Edmundson, A. (1987). Language-impaired 4-year-olds: Distinguishing transient from persistent impairment.Journal of Speech & Hearing Disorders, 52, 156–173.
    • Boudreau, D. (2007). Narrative abilities in children with language impairment.In R. Paul (Ed.), Language disorders from a developmental perspective: Essays in honor of Robin S. Chapman (pp. 331–356). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
    • Boudreau, D., & Hedberg, N. (1999). A comparison of early literacy skills in children with specific language impairment and their typically developing peers.American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 8, 249–260.
    • Bourque, L., & Clark, V. (1992). Processing data: The survey example. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
    • Brown, R. (1973). A first language: The early stages. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
    • Clahsen, H. (1989). The grammatical characterization of developmental dysphasia.Linguistics, 27, 897–920.
    • Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
    • Colozzo, P., Garcia, R., Megan, C., Gillam, R., & Johnston, J. (2006, June). Narrative assessment in SLI: Exploring interactions between content and form. Poster session presented at the annual meeting of the Symposium on Research in Child Language Disorders, Madison, WI.
    • Coolican, H. (2004). Research methods and statistics in psychology. London, England: Hodder & Stoughton.
    • Curenton, S., & Justice, L. (2004). African American and Caucasian preschoolers' use of decontextualized language: Literate language features in oral narratives.Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 35, 240–253.
    • Diessel, H., & Tomasello, M. (2000). The development of relative clauses in spontaneous child speech.Cognitive Linguistics, 11, 131–151.
    • Eaton, J., Collis, G., & Lewis, V. (1999). Evaluative explanations in children’s narratives of a video sequence without dialogue.Journal of Child Language, 26, 699–720.
    • Gazella, J., & Stockman, I. (2003). Children’s story retelling under different modality and task conditions: Implications for standardizing language sampling procedures.American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 12, 61–72.
    • Gillam, R., & Johnston, J. (1992). Spoken and written language relationships in language/learning-impaired and normally achieving school-age children.Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 35, 1303–1315.
    • Gopnik, M., & Crago, M. (1991). Familial aggregation of a developmental language disorder.Cognition, 39, 1–50.
    • Greenhalgh, K., & Strong, C. (2001). Literate language features in spoken narratives of children with typical language and children with language impairments.Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 32, 114–125.
    • Griffin, T., Hemphill, L., Camp, L., & Wolf, D. (2004). Oral discourse in the preschool years and later literacy skills.First Language, 24, 123–147.
    • Halliday, M., & Hasan, R. (1976). Cohesion in English. London, England: Longman.
    • Hargrave, A., & Senechal, M. (2000). A book reading intervention with preschool children who have limited vocabularies: The benefits of regular reading and dialogic reading.Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 15, 75–90.
    • Hedberg, N., & Westby, C. (1993). Analyzing storytelling skills: Theory to practice. Tucson, AZ: Communication Skill Builders.
    • Heilmann, J., Miller, J., Iglesias, A., Fabiano-Smith, L., Nockerts, A., & Andriacchi, K. (2008). Narrative transcription accuracy and reliability in two languages.Topics in Language Disorders, 28, 178–188.
    • Humphries, T., Cardy, J., Worling, D., & Peets, K. (2004). Narrative comprehension and retelling abilities of children with nonverbal learning disabilities.Brain and Cognition, 56, 77–88.
    • Justice, L., Bowles, R., Kaderavek, J., Ukrainetz, T., Eisenberg, S., & Gillam, R. (2006). The Index of Narrative Microstructure: A clinical tool for analyzing school-age children’s narrative performances.American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 15, 177–191.
    • Klee, T. (1992). Developmental and diagnostic characteristics of quantitative measures of children’s language production.Topics in Language Disorders, 12, 28–41.
    • Krippendorff, K. (1980). Content analysis: An introduction to its methodology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
    • Labov, W., & Waletzky, J. (1967). Narrative analysis: Oral versions of personal experience.In J. Helm (Ed.), Essays on the verbal and visual arts (pp. 12–44). Seattle: University of Washington Press.
    • Leadholm, B., & Miller, J. F. (1992). Language sample analysis: The Wisconsin guide. Madison, WI: Department of Public Instruction.
    • Liles, B. (1985). Cohesion in the narratives of normal and language-disordered children.Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 28, 123–133.
    • Malvern, D., & Richards, B. (2002). Investigating accommodation in language proficiency interviews using a new measure of lexical diversity.Language Testing, 19, 85–104.
    • Mandler, J., & Johnson, N. (1977). Remembrance of things parsed: Story structure and recall.Cognitive Psychology, 9, 111–151.
    • Manhardt, J., & Rescorla, L. (2002). Oral narrative skills of late talkers at ages 8 and 9.Applied Psycholinguistics, 23, 1–21.
    • Mayer, M. (1969). Frog, where are you?. New York, NY: Dial Press.
    • McCabe, A. (1997). Developmental and cross-cultural aspects of children’s narration.In G. Bamberg (Ed.), Narrative development: Six approaches (pp. 137–174). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
    • McFadden, T., & Gillam, R. (1996). An examination of the quality of narratives produced by children with language disorders.Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 27, 48–56.
    • Merritt, D., & Liles, B. (1987). Story grammar ability in children with and without language disorder: Story generation, story retelling, and story comprehension.Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 30, 539–552.
    • Miles, S., & Chapman, R. S. (2002). Narrative content as described by individuals with Down syndrome and typically developing children.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 45, 175–189.
    • Miller, J. F. (1981). Assessing language production in children. Baltimore, MD: University Park Press.
    • Miller, J. F. (1987). A grammatical characterization of language disorder.In J. Martin, P. Fletcher, R. Grunwell, & D. Hall (Eds.), Proceedings of the First International Symposium on Specific Speech and Language Disorders in Children (pp. 100–113). London, England: Association for All Speech Impaired Children.
    • Miller, J., Heilmann, J., Nockerts, A., Iglesias, A., Fabiano, L., & Francis, D. (2006). Oral language and reading in bilingual children.Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 21, 30–43.
    • Miller, J. F., & Iglesias, A. (2008). Systematic Analysis of Language Transcripts (Research Version 9.1) [Computer software].Middleton, WI: SALT Software.
    • Miller, J., & Klee, T. (1995). Computational approaches to the analysis of language impairment.In P. Fletcher, & B. MacWhinney (Eds.), The handbook of child language (pp. 545–572). Oxford, England: Blackwell.
    • Nippold, M. (2007). Later language development: School-age children, adolescents, and young adults (3rd ed.). Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.
    • Nippold, M., Hesketh, L., Duthie, J., & Mansfield, T. (2005). Conversational versus expository discourse: A study of syntactic development in children, adolescents, and adults.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 48, 1048–1064.
    • O’Neill, D., Pearce, M., & Pick, J. (2004). Preschool children’s narratives and performance on the Peabody Individualized Achievement Test—Revised: Evidence of a relation between early narrative and later mathematical ability.First Language, 24, 149–183.
    • Paul, R., & Smith, R. (1993). Narrative skills in 4-year-olds with normal, impaired, and late-developing language.Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 36, 592–598.
    • Pearce, W., McCormack, P., & James, D. (2003). Exploring the boundaries of SLI: Findings from morphosyntactic and story grammar analyses.Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, 17, 325–334.
    • Pelligrini, A., Galda, L., Bartini, M., & Charak, D. (1998). Oral language and literacy learning in context: The role of social relationships.Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 44, 38–54.
    • Penno, J., Wilkinson, I., & Moore, D. (2002). Vocabulary acquisition from teacher explanation and repeated listening to stories: Do they overcome the Matthew effect?.Journal of Educational Psychology, 94, 23–33.
    • Peterson, C., & McCabe, A. (1983). Developmental psycholinguistics: Three ways of looking at a child’s narrative. New York, NY: Plenum Press.
    • Peterson, C., & McCabe, A. (2004). Echoing our parents: Parental influences on children’s narration.In M. Pratt, & B. Fiese (Eds.), Family stories and the life course: Across time and generations (pp. 27–54). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
    • Quasthoff, U. (1997a). An interactive approach to narrative development.In M. Bamberg (Ed.), Narrative development: Six approaches (pp. 51–83). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
    • Quasthoff, U. (1997b). Were you ever in a situation where you were in serious danger of being killed? Narrator-listener interaction in Labov and Waletzky’s narratives.Journal of Narrative & Life History, 7, 121–128.
    • Reilly, J., Losh, M., Bellugi, U., & Wulfeck, B. (2004). Frog, Where are you? Narratives in children with specific language impairment, early focal brain injury and Williams syndrome.Brain & Language, 88, 229–247.
    • Rice, M. L., Wexler, K., & Cleave, P. L. (1995). Specific language impairment as a period of extended optional infinitive.Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 38, 850–863.
    • Robbins, C., & Ehri, L. (1994). Reading storybooks to kindergarteners helps them learn new vocabulary words.Journal of Educational Psychology, 86, 56–64.
    • Rumelhart, D. (1975). Notes on a schema for stories.In D. G. Bobrow, & A. M. Collins (Eds.), Representation and understanding: Studies in cognitive science (pp. 211–236). New York, NY: Academic Press.
    • Scarborough, H. (2001). Connecting early language and literacy to later reading (dis)abilities: Evidence, theory, and practice.In S. Neuman, & D. Dickinson (Eds.), Handbook for research in early literacy (pp. 97–110). New York, NY: Guilford Press.
    • Schuele, C., & Tolbert, L. (2001). Omissions of obligatory relative markers in children with specific language impairment.Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, 15, 257–274.
    • Scott, C., & Stokes, S. (1995). Measures of syntax in school-age children and adolescents.Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in the Schools, 26, 309–319.
    • Senechal, M., & Cornell, E. (1993). Vocabulary acquisition through shared reading experiences.Reading Research Quarterly, 28, 360–374.
    • Slobin, D. (1973). Cognitive prerequisites for the development of grammar.In C. Ferguson, & D. Slobin (Eds.), Studies of child language development (pp. 175–208). New York, NY: Academic Press.
    • Stein, N. L. (1988). The development of storytelling skill.In M. Franklin, & S. Barten (Eds.), Child language: A reader (pp. 282–297). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
    • Stein, N., & Glenn, C. (1979). An analysis for story comprehension in elementary school.In R. Freedle (Ed.), New directions in discourse processing, 2(pp. 53–120). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
    • Strong, C. (1998). The Strong Narrative Assessment Procedure. Eau Claire, WI: Thinking Publications.
    • Strong, C., & Shaver, J. (1991). Stability of cohesion in the spoken narratives of language-impaired and normally developing school-aged children.Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 34, 95–111.
    • Swanson, L., Fey, M., Mills, C., & Hood, L. (2005). Use of narrative-based language intervention with children who have specific language impairment.American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 14, 131–143.
    • Templin, M. (1957). Certain language skills in children: Their development and interrelationships. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
    • Uccelli, P., & Páez, M. (2007). Narrative and vocabulary development of bilingual children from kindergarten to first grade: Developmental changes and associations among English and Spanish skills.Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 38, 225–236.
    • van den Broek, P. (1997). Discovering the cement of the universe: The development of event comprehension from childhood to adulthood.In P. van den Broek, P. Bauer, & T. Bourg (Eds.), Developmental spans in event comprehension: Bridging fictional and actual events (pp. 321–342). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
    • Westby, C. (2005). Assessing and facilitating text comprehension problems.In H. Catts, & A. Kamhi (Eds.), Language and reading disabilities (pp. 157–232). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
    • Wigglesworth, G. (1997). Children’s individual approaches to the organization of narrative.Journal of Child Language, 24, 279–309.

    Additional Resources