All Theses, Dissertations, and Capstone Projects

Year of Award



Master of Science (MS)


College of Education & Allied Health


Communication Disorders and Deaf Education

First Advisor

Carmen Russell

Second Advisor

Laura O'Hara

Third Advisor

Richard Lewis


monolingual, diverse, writing, language, children, learning, discourse


Diversity in the United States is increasing, thus increasing the need for information about the language learning development of both typical and atypical learners. The development of second language learning is extremely complex, with both external factors and internal factors influencing the rate and quality of that learning. The pattern of sequential second language learning is uneven across domains, with some language skills, such as narrative structure, reaching age-level norms faster than more language-specific structures, such as syntax and morphosyntax. The presence of language disorder complicates this further. Additional difficulty learning the advanced syntax needed for upper-level academic writing tasks, in which syntax is one of the primary tools for the organization and presentation of thought, presents a major hurdle for academic achievement. This study focuses on measures of syntactic correctness, complexity, and length in the writing of monolingual and multilingual students, both with and without specific language impairment. Twenty-eight high school students (21 monolingual, 2 with language impairment; and 7 multilingual. 1 with diagnosed language impairment) contributed writing samples and survey data on linguistic background and comfort with writing. Group-level differences in syntactic and comfort measures were analyzed based on mono- or multilingual background and the presence of a diagnosed language impairment. Group-level differences were found between those with language impairment and those with no diagnosis on measures of syntactic accuracy, and between mono- and multilingual speakers on measures of comfort; additionally, monolingual speakers with a diagnosis of specific language impairment differed significantly on measures of comfort from those without a diagnosis.

Document Type

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In Copyright