Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2015

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Speech and Hearing Science

First Advisor

Karla McGregor

Second Advisor

Richard R. Hurtig


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between maternal perceived locus of control (PLOC), perceived self-efficacy (PSE), and mother and child gains during a mother-implemented early language and print awareness program. Thirty mother-child dyads (with typically-developing, preschool-aged children) were randomly assigned to either an immediate-training group (ITG) or a delayed-training control group (DTCG). The mothers in the ITG participated in 4 training sessions over the course of a month. Data about mothers’ use of target strategies, mothers’ responsivity, children’s knowledge of print concepts, and child language samples were collected at baseline, 1-month, and 2-months for both groups.

The training program was efficacious, as evidenced by greater gains in the ITG mothers’ target strategy use, responsivity, and children’s knowledge of print concepts as compared to DTCG mothers and children respectively. The ITG children significantly increased the number of different words they produced during their language samples from baseline to follow-up.

Mothers with a more external PLOC and/or a lower PSE score tended to use fewer strategies at baseline and make greater gains in strategy use over the course of training. Similarly, children whose mothers had a more external PLOC tended to identify fewer print concepts at baseline and make greater gains during training. Conversely, children whose mothers had a lower sense of PSE tended to use a greater variety of words and have a higher number of different words/number of total words ratio at baseline. The results of this study support the incorporation of maternal PLOC and PSE into evidence-based clinical decision-making and provide avenues for future research.

Public Abstract

Primary caregivers, in this case mothers, are often asked to participate in their preschool-aged children’s speech-language treatment as agents of early language and literacy intervention. There are a variety of factors, both internal and external, that can influence how well mothers are able to provide their children with good early language and literacy models. This study examined the relationship between two internal factors, maternal perceived locus of control and self-efficacy, and the improvements mothers and children made during a mother-implemented early language and print training program.

The training program was successful in increasing the mothers’ use of good language and literacy models and improving children’s knowledge of how books and print work. Mothers who perceived themselves to be less in control of their lives and/or perceived themselves as less able to effect change in themselves or their surroundings tended to use fewer of the models before the training and made greater gains during training as compared to mothers with a greater sense of control and/or efficacy. Similarly, children whose mothers met this profile tended to perform lower on the book-related assessments at baseline, but made greater improvements during the training. The children’s oral language outcomes were less straightforward. These results supported the importance of considering internal factors when relying on mothers to implement intervention and provided the foundation for future research.


publicabstract, intervention, literacy, locus of control, preschool language, print awareness, self-efficacy


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Copyright 2015 Rebecca Mae Alper