Date of Award

12-1-2011

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Pearlman, Susan

Abstract

Young children begin to draw spontaneously, and their drawings develop in complexity and skill as they become older. Previously, children's drawings have been utilized to assess aspects of emotional and cognitive development. On the other hand, very few studies have used children's drawings as a tool for understanding their language development. The purpose of this study was to examine the potential for using drawing as an assessment tool for language skill. Therefore, this study explored the relationship between pre-kindergarten children's drawing and language development and stability of this relationship over time. This study also examined whether children's English-language status influenced the drawing-language relationship. The study's subjects were 34 children who attended a pre-kindergarten program in a local elementary school located in a Mid-Western university town. These children participated in take-home reading and drawing activities once a week for one school year. Children's drawings that were completed after reading storybooks with their parents served as data documenting their drawing skills. Classroom teachers' observations of the children's language use were recorded on the Work Sampling System's developmental checklists, and this served as data to document their language skills. A hierarchical regression analysis revealed that children's drawing skill was a significant predictor to their language skill and explained 10% of the variance in language scores. This finding was consistent at both the beginning and end of the school year. Children's English-language status did not make a statistically significant difference in the predictive relationship of drawing for their language skills. Therefore, this study concluded that children's drawings can be used as a supplementary assessment tool to provide information about children's language skills, regardless of their primary language. However, more than half of the language variance was not identified from this study; this is an area for further investigation.

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