Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2017

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Speech and Hearing Science

First Advisor

Amanda Owen Van Horne

First Committee Member

Karla McGregor

Second Committee Member

Susan Cook

Third Committee Member

Renee Cole

Fourth Committee Member

Megan Roberts


Language serves as an essential resource to learn about cause and effect throughout childhood. Causal adverbial sentences use causal conjunctions (e.g., because, so) to join two clauses to express cause-effect relationships (Diessel & Hetterle, 2011). Causal adverbial sentences are frequently used to explain causal relationships in academic contexts, such as elementary school science and social studies classes (Kinzie et al., 2014; Williams et al., 2014). Children with specific language impairment (SLI) are at risk for failure in these academically relevant language skills. Here, a multiple probe design was used to examine the effect of language intervention focused on causal adverbials on both causal adverbials and acquisition of academic content for preschool/kindergarten children with SLI. Child performance on sentence elicitation probes of causal adverbials and an untreated control structure were analyzed. Six of seven participants exhibited gains at some level in production of causal adverbials containing because. Performance on daily probes of science content learning, and science unit tests indicate that participants are able to learn science content, but the magnitude of gains may not relate to skill in causal adverbial production. Language intervention for young children with SLI can effectively treat complex syntactic targets such as causal adverbials in the context of science instruction, but it is unclear whether this can affect science content learning.


causal adverbial, intervention, science education, Specific Language Impairment


x, 107 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 104-107).


Copyright © 2017 Maura K. Curran