The primary aim of the present study was to examine whether different ways of presenting narrative stimuli (i.e., live narrative stimuli versus audio-recorded narrative stimuli) influence children's performances on narrative comprehension and oral-retell quality.


Children in kindergarten (n = 54), second grade (n = 74), and fourth grade (n = 65) were matched on their performance on a standardized oral-language comprehension task and then were randomly assigned to 1 of the 2 conditions that differed in how narrative stimuli were presented to children: live narrative stimuli and audio-recorded narrative stimuli.


Kindergartners and 2nd graders in the live condition had higher mean performance on narrative comprehension, with effect sizes of .43 and .39, respectively, after accounting for age, gender, and school. No differences were found in narrative comprehension for children in 4th grade. Children's oral-retell quality did not differ as a function of condition in any grade.


These results suggest that how narrative stimuli are presented to children (i.e., live versus audio-recorded narrative stimuli) may affect children's narrative comprehension, particularly for young children in kindergarten and Grade 2. Implications for assessment and instruction are discussed.


  • Anderson, D. R., Huston, A. C., Schmitt, K. L., Linebarger, D. L., Wright, J. C., & Larson, R. (2001). Early childhood television viewing and adolescent behavior: The recontact study.Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 66(1, Serial No. 264), 1–154.
  • Barnes, A. E., Kim, Y.-S., & Phillips, B. M. (2014). The relations of proper character introduction to narrative quality and listening comprehension for young children from high poverty schools.Reading and Writing, 27, 1189–1205. doi:10.1007/s11145-013-9481-0
  • Berninger, V. W., & Abbott, R. D. (2010). Listening comprehension, oral expression, reading comprehension, and written expression: Related yet unique language systems in grades 1, 3, 5, and 7.Journal of Educational Psychology, 102, 635–651. doi:10.1037/a0019319
  • Bickham, D. S., Schmidt, M. E., & Huston, A. C. (2012). Attention, comprehension, and the educational influences of television and other electronic media.In D. G. Singer & J. L. Singer (Eds.), Handbook of children and the media (2nd ed., pp. 113–137). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.
  • Carrow-Woolfolk, E. (2011). Oral and Written Language Scales–Second Edition. Torrance, CA: Western Psychological Services.
  • Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Cohen, J., Cohen, P., West, S. G., & Aiken, L. S. (2003). Applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for the behavioral sciences (3rd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Common Core State Standards. (2010). National Governors Association and Council of Chief School Officers. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.corestandards.org/
  • Cornish, K. M., & Munir, F. (1998). Receptive and expressive language skills in children with cri-du-chat syndrome.Journal of Communication Disorders, 31, 73–81.
  • Curenton, S. M., Craig, M. J., & Flanigan, N. (2008). Use of decontextualized talk across story contexts: How oral storytelling and emergent reading can scaffold children's development.Early Education and Development, 19, 161–187. doi:10.1080/10409280701839296
  • Dickinson, D. K., & Porche, M. V. (2011). Relation between language experiences in preschool classrooms and children's kindergarten and fourth-grade language and reading abilities.Child Development, 82, 870–886. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01576.x
  • Dickinson, D. K., & Tabors, P. O. (1991). Early literacy: Linkages between home, school and literacy achievement at age five.Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 6, 30–46.
  • Diehm, E., Wood, C., Messier, J., & Callender, M. (2015). Technology enhanced narrative assessment: Effect of presentation modality on preschooler's narrative retell. Manuscript submitted for publication.
  • Florit, E., Roch, M., & Levorato, M. C. (2013). The relationship between listening comprehension of text and sentences in preschoolers: Specific or mediated by lower and higher level components?.Applied Psycholinguistics, 34, 395–415. doi:10.1017/S0142716411000749
  • Gillam, R. B., & Pearson, N. (2004). Test of Narrative Language. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.
  • Hoover, W. A., & Gough, P. B. (1990). The simple view of reading.Reading and Writing, 2, 127–160.
  • Juel, C., Griffith, P. L., & Gough, P. B. (1986). Acquisition of literacy: A longitudinal study of children in first and second grade.Journal of Educational Psychology, 78, 243–255.
  • Justice, L. M., Bowles, R., Pence, K., & Gosse, C. (2010). A scalable tool for assessing children's language abilities within a narrative context: The NAP (Narrative Assessment Protocol).Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 25, 218–234. doi:10.1016/j.ecresq.2009.11.002
  • Kendeou, P., Bohn-Gettler, C., White, M. J., & van den Broek, P. (2008). Children's inference generation across different media.Journal of Research in Reading, 31, 259–272. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9817.2008.00370.x
  • Kendeou, P., van den Broek, P., White, M. J., & Lynch, J. S. (2009). Predicting reading comprehension in early elementary school: The independent contributions of oral language and decoding skills.Journal of Educational Psychology, 101, 765–778. doi:10.1037/a0015956
  • Kim, Y.-S. G. (2015a). Expanding the developmental models of writing: A direct and indirect effects model of development writing (DIEW). Manuscript submitted for publication.
  • Kim, Y.-S. (2015b). Language and cognitive predictors of text comprehension: Evidence from multivariate analysis.Child Development, 86, 128–144.
  • Kim, Y.-S. G. (2016). Direct and mediated effects of language and cognitive skills on comprehension or oral narrative texts (listening comprehension) for children.Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 141, 101–120. doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2015.08.003
  • Kim, Y.-S., Al Otaiba, S., Wanzek, J., & Gatlin, B. (2015). Toward an understanding of dimensions, predictors, and the gender gap in written composition.Journal of Educational Psychology, 107, 79–95. doi:10.1037/a0037210
  • Kim, Y.-S. G., Park, C., & Park, Y. (2015). Dimensions of discourse-level oral language skills and their relations to reading comprehension and written composition: An exploratory study.Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 28, 633–654.
  • Kim, Y.-S., & Phillips, B. (2014). Cognitive correlates of listening comprehension.Reading Research Quarterly, 49, 269–281.
  • Krcmar, M. (2011). Can past experience with television help US infants learn from it?.Journal of Children and Media, 5, 235–247. doi:10.1080/17482798.2011.584373
  • Krcmar, M., & Cingel, D. P. (2014). Parent–child joint reading in traditional and electronic formats.Media Psychology, 17, 262–281. doi:10.1080/15213269.2013.840243
  • Krcmar, M., Grela, B., & Lin, K. (2007). Can toddlers learn vocabulary from television? An experimental approach.Media Psychology, 10, 41–63. doi:10.1080/15213260701300931
  • Lepola, J., Lynch, J., Laakkonen, E., Silvén, M., & Niemi, P. (2012). The role of inference making and other language skills in the development of narrative listening comprehension in 4–6-year-old children.Reading Research Quarterly, 47, 259–282. doi:10.1002/rrq.020
  • Linebarger, D. L., & Piotrowski, J. T. (2010). Structure and strategies in children's educational television: The roles of program type and learning strategies in children's learning.Child Development, 81, 1582–1597. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01493.x
  • Linebarger, D. L., & Vaala, S. E. (2010). Screen media and language development in infants and toddlers: An ecological perspective.Developmental Review, 30, 176–202. doi:10.1016/j.dr.2010.03.006
  • Linebarger, D. L., & Walker, D. (2005). Infants' and toddlers' television viewing and language outcomes.American Behavioral Scientist, 48, 624–645. doi:10.1177/0002764204271505
  • Lipsey, M. W., & Wilson, D. B. (2000). Practical meta-analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Mar, R. A. (2004). The neuropsychology of narrative: Story comprehension, story production and their interrelation.Neuropsychologia, 42, 1414–1434. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2003.12.016
  • Mayer, M. (1967). A boy, a dog, and a frog. New York, NY: Penguin.
  • Mayer, M., & Mayer, M. (1975). One frog too many. New York, NY: Penguin.
  • Miller, J. F., & Iglesias, A. (2008). Systematic analysis of language transcripts (SALT). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin.
  • Petersen, D. B., Gillam, S. L., & Gillam, R. B. (2008). Emerging procedures in narrative assessment: The Index of Narrative Complexity.Topics in Language Disorders, 28, 115–130.
  • Reed, D. K., & Petscher, Y. (2012). The influence of testing prompt and condition on middle school students' retell performance.Reading Psychology, 33, 562–585. doi:10.1080/02702711.2011.557333
  • Reese, E., & Cox, A. (1999). Quality of adult book reading affects children's emergent literacy skills.Developmental Psychology, 35, 20–28.
  • Reese, E., Leyva, D., Sparks, A., & Grolnick, W. (2010). Maternal elaborative reminiscing increases low-income children's narrative skills relative to dialogic reading.Early Education and Development, 21, 318–342. doi:10.1080/10409289.2010.481552
  • Renfrew, C. E. (1969). The bus story: A test of continuous speech. Old Headington, United Kingdom: Oxford.
  • Rescorla, L., & Ratner, N. B. (1996). Phonetic profiles of toddlers with specific expressive language impairments (SLI-E).Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 39, 153–165.
  • Rice, M. L., Huston, A. C., Truglio, R., & Wright, J. C. (1990). Words from “Sesame Street”: Learning vocabulary while viewing.Developmental Psychology, 26, 421–428.
  • Rideout, V. J., & Hamel, E. (2006). The media family: Electronic media in the lives of infants, toddlers, preschoolers and their parents. Menlo Park, CA: Kaiser Family Foundation.
  • Scott, C. M., & Windsor, J. (2000). General language performance measures in spoken and written narrative and expository discourse of school-age children with language learning disabilities.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 43, 324–339.
  • Schmitt, K. L., & Anderson, D. R. (2002). Television and reality: Toddlers' use of visual information from video to guide behavior.Media Psychology, 4, 51–76.
  • Schneider, P., & Dubé, R. V. (2005). Story presentation effects on children's retell content.American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 14, 52–60. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2005/007)
  • Schneider, P., Rivard, R., & Debreuil, B. (2011). Does colour affect the quality or quantity of children's stories elicited by pictures?.Child Language Teaching & Therapy, 27, 371–378. doi:10.1177/0265659011414278
  • Snow, C. (1983). Literacy and language: Relationships during the preschool years.Harvard Educational Review, 53, 165–189.
  • Snow, C. E. (1991). The theoretical basis for relationships between language and literacy in development.Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 6, 5–10.
  • Strasser, K., & del Río, F. (2014). The role of comprehension monitoring, theory of mind, and vocabulary depth in predicting story comprehension and recall of kindergarten children.Reading Research Quarterly, 49, 169–187. doi:10.1002/rrq.68
  • Strong, C. J. (1998). The Strong Narrative Assessment Procedure. Eau Claire, WI: Thinking Publications.
  • Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2001). Using multivariate statistics (4th ed.). New York, NY: Allyn & Bacon.
  • Tabors, P. O., Snow, C. E., & Dickinson, D. K. (2001). Homes and schools together: Supporting language and literacy development.In D. K. Dickinson & P. O. Tabors (Eds.), Beginning literacy with language: Young children learning at home and school (pp. 313–334). Baltimore, MD: Brookes.
  • Wagner, C. R., Sahlén, B., & Nettelbladt, U. (1999). What's the story? Narration and comprehension in Swedish preschool children with language impairment.Child Language Teaching & Therapy, 15, 113–137.
  • Westerveld, M. F., & Gillon, G. T. (2010). Profiling oral narrative ability in young school-aged children.International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 12, 178–189. doi:10.3109/17549500903194125
  • Westerveld, M. F., Gillon, G. T., & Miller, J. F. (2004). Spoken language samples of New Zealand children in conversation and narration.Advances in Speech Language Pathology, 6, 195–208. doi:10.1080/14417040400010140
  • Woodcock, R. W., McGrew, K. S., & Mather, N. (2001). Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Achievement. Itasca, IL: Riverside.

Additional Resources