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IPSyn: Psychometric properties and modifications (Yang et al., 2021)

journal contribution
posted on 2021-11-08, 18:30 authored by Ji Seung Yang, Brian MacWhinney, Nan Bernstein Ratner
Purpose: The Index of Productive Syntax (IPSyn) is a well-known language sample analysis tool. However, its psychometric properties have not been assessed across a wide sample of typically developing preschool-age children and children with language disorders. We sought to determine the profile of IPSyn scores by age over early childhood. We additionally explored whether the IPSyn could be shortened to fewer items without loss of information and whether the required language sample could be shortened from a current required number of 100 utterances to 50.
Method: We used transcripts from the Child Language Data Exchange System, including 1,051 samples of adult–child conversational play with toys within the theoretical framework of item response theory. Samples included those from typically developing children as well as children with hearing loss, Down syndrome, and late language emergence.
Results: The Verb Phrase and Sentence Structure subscales showed more stable developmental trajectories over the preschool years and greater differentiation between typical and atypical cohorts than did the Noun Phrase and Question/Negation subscales. A number of current IPSyn scoring items can be dropped without loss of information, and 50-utterance samples demonstrate most of the same psychometric properties of longer samples.
Discussion: Our findings suggest ways in which the IPSyn can be automated and streamlined (proposed IPSyn-C) so as to provide useful clinical guidance with fewer items and a shorter required language sample. Reference values for the IPSyn-C are provided. Trajectories for one subscale (Question/Negation) appear inherently unstable and may require structured elicitation. Potential limitations, ramifications, and future directions are discussed.

Supplemental Material S1. Additional analysis.

Supplemental Material S2. Density plots and receiver operating characteristic curves for Noun Phrase Assembly Scale.

Supplemental Material S3. Density plots and receiver operating characteristic curves for Verb Phrase Assembly Scale.

Supplemental Material S4. Density plots and receiver operating characteristic curves for the Sentence Structure Assembly Scale.

Yang, J. S., MacWhinney, B., & Bernstein Ratner, N. (2021). The Index of Productive Syntax: Psychometric properties and suggested modifications. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. Advance online publication.


This work was supported by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant R01DC017152, awarded to Nan Bernstein Ratner.