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UDL Guidelines - Version 2.0: Research Evidence

Checkpoint 2.2: Clarify syntax and structure

I. Provide Multiple Means of Representation

Language, expressions, and symbols


The particular structure in which information is presented creates its own processing demands or "cognitive load."  The demands of the specific structure in which information is presented raises barriers, barriers that are much more problematic for some learners than others. The majority of the experimental studies on clarifying syntax and structure listed here focus upon the effectiveness of various tools and strategies to support students' understanding of syntactic and structural relationships. Many of the studies here come from a neural basis and examine how syntactical processing occurs in the brain. The scholarly reviews and opinion pieces provide more classroom-based perspectives on supporting students' awareness of syntax and structure. 

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Experimental and Quantitative Evidence:

Behrns, I., Ahlsén, E., & Wengelin, Å. (2008). Aphasia and the process of revision in writing a text. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, 22(2), 95-110.

Bernolet, S., Hartsuiker, R. J., & Pickering, M. J. (2007). Shared syntactic representations in bilinguals: Evidence for the role of word-order repetition. Journal of Experimental Psychology / Learning, Memory & Cognition, 33(5), 931-949.

Bornkessel, I., Zysset, S., Friederici, A. D., von Cramon, D. Y., & Schlesewsky, M. (2005). Who did what to whom? The neural basis of argument hierarchies during language comprehension. NeuroImage, 26(1), 221-233.

Celinska, D. K. (2004). Personal narratives of students with and without learning disabilities. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 19(2), 83-98.

Christensen, K. R. (2008). Interfaces, syntactic movement, and neural activation: A new perspective on the implementation of language in the brain. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 21(2), 73-103.

Cleary, A. M., & Langley, M. M. (2007). Retention of the structure underlying sentences. Language & Cognitive Processes, 22(4), 614-628.

de Vries, M. H., Monaghan, P., Knecht, S., & Zwitserlood, P. (2008). Syntactic structure and artificial grammar learning: The learnability of embedded hierarchical structures. Cognition, 107(2), 763-774.

Dimino, J. A., Taylor, R. M., & Gersten, R. M. (1995). Synthesis of the research on story grammar as a means to increase comprehension. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 11(1), 53-72.

Dommes, P., Gersten, R., & Carnine, D. (1984). Instructional procedures for increasing skill-deficient fourth graders' comprehension of syntactic structures. Educational Psychology, 4(2), 155-165.

Ebbels, S. H., Van Der Lely, H. K. J., & Dockrell, J. E. (2007). Intervention for verb argument structure in children with persistent SLI: A randomized control trial. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 50(5), 1330-1349.

Eigsti, I., Bennetto, L., & Dadlani, M. B. (2007). Beyond pragmatics: Morphosyntactic development in autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37(6), 1007-1023.

Friedmann, N., & Szterman, R. (2006). Syntactic movement in orally trained children with hearing impairment. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 11(1), 56-75.

Friedmann, N., & Novogrodsky, R. (2007). Is the movement deficit in syntactic SLI related to traces or to thematic role transfer? Brain and Language, 101(1), 50-63.

Frisson, S., & Pickering, M. J. (2007). The processing of familiar and novel senses of a word: Why reading Dickens is easy but reading Needham can be hard. Language & Cognitive Processes, 22(4), 595-613.

Froud, K., & van der Lely, H. K. J. (2008). The count-mass distinction in typically developing and grammatically specifically language impaired children: New evidence on the role of syntax and semantics. Journal of Communication Disorders, 41(3), 274-303.

Hewitt, L. E., Hinkle, A. S., & Miccio, A. W. (2005). Intervention to improve expressive grammar for adults with down syndrome. Communication Disorders Quarterly, 26(3), 144-155.

Hofman, R., & van Oostendorp, H. (1999). Cognitive effects of a structural overview in a hypertext. British Journal of Educational Technology, 30(2), 129-140.

Hooper, S. R., Wakely, M. B., de Kruif, R. E. L., & Swartz, C. W. (2006). Aptitude-Treatment interactions revisited: Effect of metacognitive intervention on subtypes of written expression in elementary school students. Developmental Neuropsychology, 29(1), 217-241.

Kerkhofs, R., Vonk, W., Schriefers, H., & Chwilla, D. J. (2007). Discourse, syntax, and prosody: The brain reveals an immediate interaction. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 19(9), 1421-1434.

Kidd, E., Brandt, S., Lieven, E., & Tomasello, M. (2007). Object relatives made easy: A cross-linguistic comparison of the constraints influencing young children's processing of relative clauses. Language & Cognitive Processes, 22(6), 860-897.

Klin, C. M., Ralano, A. S., & Weingartner, K. M. (2007). Repeating phrases across unrelated narratives: Evidence of text repetition effects. Memory & Cognition, 35(7), 1588-1599.

Law, J., Garrett, Z., & Nye, C. (2004). The efficacy of treatment for children with developmental speech and language delay/ disorder: A meta-analysis. Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research, 47(4), 924-943.

Lesaux, N. K., Rupp, A. A., & Siegel, L. S. (2007). Growth in reading skills of children from diverse linguistic backgrounds: Findings from a 5-year longitudinal study. Journal of Educational Psychology, 99(4), 821-834.

Lewis, B. A., Freebairn, L. A., & Taylor, H. G. (2000). Academic outcomes in children with histories of speech sound disorders. Journal of Communication Disorders, 33(1), 11-30.

Lœvenbruck, H., Baciu, M., Segebarth, C., & Abry, C. (2005). The left inferior frontal gyms under focus: An fMRI study of the production of deixis via syntactic extraction and prosodic focus. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 18(3), 237-258.

Marinis, T., & van der Lely, H. K. J. (2007). On-line processing of wh-questions in children with G-SLI and typically developing children. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 42(5), 557-582.

Markert, H., Knoblauch, A., & Palm, G. (2007). Modelling of syntactical processing in the cortex. Biosystems, 89(1-3), 300-315.

McDuffie, A. S., Sindberg, H. A., Hesketh, L. J., & Chapman, R. S. (2007). Use of speaker intent and grammatical cues in fast-mapping by adolescents with down syndrome. Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research, 50(6), 1546-1561.

Mellow, J. D. (2008). The emergence of complex syntax: A longitudinal case study of the ESL development of dependency resolution. Lingua, 118(4), 499-521.

Miles, S., Chapman, R., & Sindberg, H. (2006). Sampling context affects MLU in the language of adolescents with down syndrome. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 49(2), 325-337.

Milman, L. H., Dickey, M. W., & Thompson, C. K. (2008). A psychometric analysis of functional category production in English agrammatic narratives. Brain and Language, 105(1), 18-31.

Murray, L. L., & Lenz, L. P. (2001). Productive syntax abilities in Huntington's and Parkinson's diseases. Brain and Cognition, 46(1-2), 213-219.

Newman, R. M., & McGregor, K. K. (2006). Teachers and laypersons discern quality differences between narratives produced by children with or without SLI. Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research, 49(5), 1022-1036.

Parisse, C., & Maillart, C. (2007). Phonology and syntax in French children with SLI: A longitudinal study. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, 21(11), 945-951.

Parladori, D., & Menegus, T. (2005). Correlation between morphosyntactic level and I.Q. in down's syndrome. survey of a group comprising 96 subjects. Acta Phoniatrica Latina, 27(3), 477-486.

Pearce, W. M., McCormack, P. F., & James, D. G. H. (2003). Exploring the boundaries of SLI: Findings from morphosyntactic and story grammar analyses. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, 17(4-5), 325-334.

Prat, C. S., Keller, T. A., & Just, M. A. (2007). Individual differences in sentence comprehension: A functional magnetic resonance imaging investigation of syntactic and lexical processing demands. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 19(12), 1950-1963.

Price, J. R., Roberts, J. E., Hennon, E. A., Berni, M. C., Anderson, K. L., & Sideris, J. (2008). Syntactic complexity during conversation of boys with fragile X syndrome and down syndrome. Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research, 51(1), 3-15.

Pulvermüller, F., Shtyrov, Y., Hasting, A. S., & Carlyon, R. P. (2008). Syntax as a reflex: Neurophysiological evidence for early automaticity of grammatical processing. Brain & Language, 104(3), 244-253.

Reed, V. A., MacMillan, V., & McLeod, S. (2001). Elucidating the effects of different definitions of "utterance" on selected syntactic measures of older children's language samples. Asia Pacific Journal of Speech, 6(1), 39-45.

Rice, M. L., Taylor, C. L., & Zubrick, S. R. (2008). Language outcomes of 7-year-old children with or without a history of late language emergence at 24 months. Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research, 51(2), 394-407.

Rispens, J., & Been, P. (2007). Subject-verb agreement and phonological processing in developmental dyslexia and specific language impairment (SLI): A closer look. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 42(3), 293-305.

Romeo, K. (2008). A web-based listening methodology for studying relative clause acquisition. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 21(1), 51-66.

Shah, P., & Carpenter, P. A. (1995). Conceptual limitations in comprehending line graphs. Journal of Experimental Psychology / General, 124(11), 43-61.

Shah, P., & Hoeffner, J. (2002). Review of graph comprehension research: Implications for instruction. Educational Psychology Review, 14(1), 47-69.

Shah, P., & Mayer, R. E. (1999). Graphs as aids to knowledge construction : Signaling techniques for guiding the process of graph comprehension. Journal of Educational Psychology, 91(4), 690-702.

Shulman, C., & Guberman, A. (2007). Acquisition of verb meaning through syntactic cues: A comparison of children with autism, children with specific language impairment (SLI) and children with typical language development (TLD). Journal of Child Language, 34(2), 411-423.

Stemberger, J. P. (2007). Children's overtensing errors: Phonological and lexical effects on syntax. Journal of Memory & Language, 57(1), 49-64.

Torkildsen, J. v. K., Syversen, G., Simonsen, H. G., Moen, I., & Lindgren, M. (2007). Brain responses to lexical-semantic priming in children at-risk for dyslexia. Brain & Language, 102(3), 243-261.

Tyler, A. A., Lewis, K. E., & Haskill, A. (2002). Efficacy and cross-domain effects of a morphosyntax and a phonology intervention. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 33(1), 52-66.

Valian, V., & Lyman, C. (2003). Young children's acquisition of WH-questions: The role of structured input. Journal of Child Language, 30(1), 117-143.

Vasilyeva, M., Huttenlocher, J., & Waterfall, H. (2006). Effects of language intervention on syntactic skill levels in preschoolers. Developmental Psychology, 42(1), 164-174.

Vasilyeva, M., Waterfall, H., & Huttenlocher, J. (2008). Emergence of syntax: Commonalities and differences across children. Developmental Science, 11(1), 84-97.

Vicente, S., Orrantia, J., & Verschaffel, L. (2007). Influence of situational and conceptual rewording on word problem solving. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 77(4), 829-848.

Vigil, V. T., Eyer, J. A., & Hardee, W. P. (2005). Relevant responding in pragmatic language impairment: The role of language variation in the information-soliciting utterance. Child Language Teaching & Therapy, 21(1), 1-21.

Yoshinaga-Itano, C., & Downey, D. M. (1996). Development of school-aged deaf, hard-of-hearing, and normally hearing students' written language. Volta Review, 98(1), 3-7.

Zywica, J., & Gomez, K. (2008). Annotating to support learning in the content areas: Teaching and learning science. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 52(2), 155-165.

Scholarly reviews and expert opinions:

Abbeduto, L., Warren, S. F., & Conners, F. A. (2007). Language development in down syndrome: From the prelinguistic period to the acquisition of literacy. Mental Retardation & Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews, 13(3), 247-261.

Armstrong, E. (2005). Language disorder: A functional linguistic perspective. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, 19(3), 137-153.

Cain, K. (2007). Syntactic awareness and reading ability: Is there any evidence for a special relationship? Applied Psycholinguistics, 28(4), 679-694.

Hassett, D. D., & Schieble, M. B. (2007). Finding space and time for the visual in K-12 literacy instruction. English Journal, 97(1), 62-68.

Semel, E., & Rosner, S. R. (2003). Understanding Williams Syndrome: Behavioral patterns and interventions. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

Tomalin, M. (2007). Reconsidering recursion in syntactic theory. Lingua, 117(10), 1784-1800.

Tsimpli, I. M., & Dimitrakopoulou, M. (2007). The interpretability hypothesis: Evidence from wh-interrogatives in second language acquisition. Second Language Research, 23(2), 215-242.

Last Updated: 02/01/2011

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