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Adolescent discourse summarization (Lundine et al., 2018)

posted on 2018-05-04, 01:40 authored by Jennifer P. Lundine, Stacy M. Harnish, Rebecca J. McCauley, Deena Schwen Blackett, Alexandra Zezinka, Wei Chen, Robert A. Fox
Purpose: Summarizing expository passages is a critical academic skill that is understudied in language research. The purpose of this study was to compare the quality of verbal summaries produced by adolescents for 3 different discourse types and to determine whether a composite measure of cognitive skill or a test of expressive syntax predicted their performance.
Method: Fifty adolescents listened to, and then verbally summarized, 1 narrative and 2 expository lectures (compare–contrast and cause–effect). They also participated in testing that targeted expressive syntax and 5 cognitive subdomains.
Results: Summary quality scores were significantly different across discourse types, with a medium effect size. Analyse revealed significantly higher summary quality scores for cause–effect than compare–contrast summaries. Although the composite cognitive measure contributed significantly to the prediction of quality scores for both types of expository summaries, the expressive syntax score only contributed significantly to the quality scores for narrative summaries.
Conclusions: These results support previous research indicating that type of expository discourse may impact student performance. These results also show, for the first time, that cognition may play a predictive role in determining summary quality for expository but not narrative passages in this population. In addition, despite the more complex syntax commonly associated with exposition versus narratives, an expressive syntax score was only predictive of performance on narrative summaries. These findings provide new information, questions, and directions for future research for those who study academic discourse and for professionals who must identify and manage the problems of students struggling with different types of academic discourse.

Supplemental Material S1. Descriptive block-level U.S. Census values for participants and rotated structure matrix for principal component analysis with Varimax rotation of socioeconomic status (SES) variables.

Supplemental Material S2. Descriptions of compare–contrast, cause–effect, and narrative lectures.

Supplemental Material S3. Tests used from the National Institutes of Health Toolbox Cognition Battery.

Supplemental Material S4. Pearson correlations for Expressive Syntax score, MLCU, and SI for compare–contrast, cause–effect, and narrative summaries (N = 50).

Supplemental Material S5. Pearson correlations for total summarization quality scores for compare–contrast, cause–effect, and narrative lectures, age, socioeconomic status (SES) factors, cognitive composite score, and expressive syntax score (N = 48).

Lundine, J. P., Harnish, S. M., McCauley, R. J., Blackett, D. S., Zezinka, A., Chen, W., & Fox, R. A. (2018). Adolescent summaries of narrative and expository discourse: Differences and predictors. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 49, 551–568.


This research was supported in part by the Alumni Grant for Graduate Research and Scholarship from The Ohio State University to the first author.