Date of Graduation

5-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Education

Degree Level

Undergraduate

Department

Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders

Advisor

Frazier, Kimberly

Reader

Aslin, Larry

Second Reader

Cook, Aletha

Abstract

Language diversity is continually increasing in the United States. In the 2007 American Community Survey taken by the U.S. Census Bureau, it was found that about 20 percent of the U.S. population spoke a language other than English at home. As language diversity increases in the country, the language diversity of individuals diagnosed with cognitive or communicative impairments also increases. As a result, understanding how language and spoken accent difference affects the accuracy of diagnostic testing becomes an important question. A large challenge facing speech-language pathologists regarding culturally and linguistically diverse clients is distinguishing communication differences from communication disorders. As the language background of the test-takers vary, the potential for misdiagnoses becomes a greater issue. While it is mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 that testing be completed in both the native language of the test-taker as well as in English, the spoken accent of the test administrator remains a variant. This study is designed to assess whether the spoken accent of the test administrator has a significant effect on the test-taker’s recall ability. In this study, the Number Sequencing subtest in the Fourth Edition of the Clinical Evaluation of Language and Fundamentals (CELF4) test and the Number Sequencing subtest of the Test of Auditory-Perceptual Skills- Revised (TAPS-R) were used to measure verbal working memory performance of 20 college students of ages 18-26 who speak, and are predominately exposed to, Mainstream American English. The Number Sequencing tests assess an individual’s ability to recall a verbal list of numbers, both forwards and backwards. The test provides raw and standard scores according to naming accuracy (percentage). Each participant took both tests from two different test administrators. Two male graduate students of similar age administered the tests; one with a native language of Mainstream American English and the other with a native language of Kurdish. Both test administrators are proficient in English, though their spoken accents differ. The participants acted as their own control, meaning their raw scores from both tests will be compared to identify if the spoken accent of the test administrator had a significant effect on their test performance. Overall the results indicated that spoken accent has no significant effect on recall ability. There was no noticeable trend between each participants scores and the spoken accent of the test administrator. There were a few limitations to this study; one being the high predictability of the test material. In future studies, test items with more semantic information would be a better representation of how recall ability is affected by spoken accent difference.