versão On-line ISSN 1982-0232
Rev. soc. bras. fonoaudiol. vol.16 no.4 São Paulo dez. 2011
Juliana Ramos CasemiroI; Karen Barros RibeiroI; Tatiana Ribeiro Gomes da MattaI; Aparecido José Couto SoaresII, Maria Silvia CárnioII
IUndergraduate Program in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, Department Physical Therapy, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy, School of Medicine, Universidade de São Paulo - USP - São Paulo (SP), Brazil
IIDepartment Physical Therapy, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy, School of Medicine, Universidade de São Paulo - USP - São Paulo (SP), Brazil
PURPOSE: To investigate the influence of visual stimuli on the written production of Elementary School students with no complaints of reading and writing difficulties.
METHODS: Participants were 25 Elementary School children without reading and writing complaints who were enrolled in 3rd and 4th grades of a public school. The following inclusion criteria were adopted: responses at 20 dBHL for frequencies from 500 Hz to 4 kHz on hearing screening; to be enrolled in school for at least two years; and to present alphabetic or orthographic writing level. Participants were divided into small groups, and the written productions were collected in two separate days. Productions were analyzed according to the criteria adopted, which were based on a study regarding communicative skills (generic, encyclopedic and linguistic). Data were statistically analyzed.
RESULTS: There was no difference in the duration of writing elaboration, regardless the type of visual stimulus. As for the generic skills, the predominant type of discourse was the narrative genre. Regarding the encyclopedic skills, there was evidence of greater intertextuality for the action picture. With regards to the linguistic skills, the produced texts were long, with inadequate score, orthographic errors and partial overall cohesion.
CONCLUSION: The visual stimuli presented did not interfere in the written production of Elementary School students regarding communicative skills.
Keywords: Education; Writing; Assessment; Educational status; Narration
The development of writing involves a complex set of skills, such as assimilation, analysis, meta-linguistic abilities, information organization, conciseness and readability(1). It also requires the activation and coordination of different linguistic abilities, such as semantics, syntax, orthography and writing production in conventional standards. Writing develops after the establishment of reading(2) as these two are interrelated(3).
There are three communication skills(4) that intervene in the discourse knowledge. These skills should be related so that the subject is able to produce a textual interpretation. The general competence is the ability to produce utterances in the context of a number of genres. In turn, linguistic competence is related to mastery of language and encyclopedic competence refers to knowledge about the world.
The composition of narratives requires proper coordination of different cognitive and communication skills as organization of ideas, story development, temporal sequence, inter-relationship between events and characters among others(5).
Written narratives are based on oral narratives(6). The learner needs to be exposed and to have contact with texts in his known environment in order to acquire a true narrative scheme(7). This occurs because the learner must elaborate ideas, arrange the components and implement the strategies. In this sense, the way a narrative is written indicates the progression of reading and writing skills, becoming an important parameter for Speech-Language Pathology and Educational practices.
The use of pictures to elicit written production is characterized as a standardized stimulus from which children can start their composition. Thus, after seeing a picture, the child needs to understand and identify not only the actions but also the intentions of the characters and make inferences regarding the elaboration of a narrative(8).
A study(9) with students from 1st to 4th grades examined the influence of different written production conditions as: free production, oral/written production, production from a sequence of pictures, and reproduction of a story heard. The authors concluded that the picture is important for the development of narrative writing because it provided more elaborate stories - the sequence of four pictures encompassed theme, scene, characters, goal and a problem situation. Therefore, it is possible to infer that the picture is a bridge to literacy process and therapeutic practices.
Based on the foregoing, the present study aimed to verify the influence of visual stimuli on the written production of students of Elementary Education with no complaints of reading and writing difficulties.
This cross-sectional study was developed after approval by the Ethics Committee for Analysis of Research Projects (CAPPesq) of the School of Medicine of Universidade de São Paulo (USP) under protocol number 1006/08.
Data were collected at a State school at the Western region of São Paulo. The selected school serves families of lower middle class and students attend regular school in the morning and workshop activities in the afternoon.
Twenty-five children without complaints of reading and writing difficulties, regardless gender and age, participated. Sixteen children were 4th graders and nine were 5th graders of an Elementary Public School.
The following inclusion criteria was adopted for sample selection: hearing screening responses at 20 dB HL to stimuli ranging from 500 Hz to 4 kHz with Pediatric Audiometer (PA5 - Interacoustics®); enrollment in 4th and 5th grades of Elementary Education; enrollment in the referred school for two years or more in order to ensure adaptation to the educational process; alphabetic and/or orthographic level of writing; and no complaints of oral language, reading and writing difficulties. These latter criteria were evaluated by means of the protocol Assessment of Reading and Writing*, Informative Questionnaire completed by teachers**, and anamnesis held with the parents.
Parents and/or guardians who agreed to have their children participating in the study signed an informed consent form (ICF). In addition, teachers of 4th and 5th grades also signed an ICF agreeing to provide data about the performance of participating students.
Materials for selection of participants
Anamnesis with the parents was conducted to obtain data on personal and family history of participants.
Teachers were asked to complete a questionnaire providing information on academic performance and behavioral characteristics of each child in the sample in order to remove from the sample children who could exhibit any deficits.
The protocol Reading and Writing Assessment of the institution where the study was conducted was used to assess the level of writing. The protocol includes tests of visual recognition of words, reading of words and sentences, word and phrase cloze as well as production of written text.
Otoscopy and hearing screening were carried out with the following instruments: Mini Otoscope Heine® 300 and Pediatric Audiometer (Interacoustics® Pediatric Audiometer - PA5) in order to ensure the level of hearing acuity proposed.
Materials for data collection
The figures in sequence were selected based on previous studies(9,10) which had the aim of validating a sensitive tool for small progress in the acquisition of writing of individuals with congenital deafness.
The action figure was obtained from a history book with pictures in sequence(11) that is widely used in the area of language to promote the writing of narrative and discourse in children(5,12,13). For the current study only one of the sequences containing many actions was selected from the book (Appendix 1).
The Sony® Digital Camcorder SR 47 with internal hard drive was used for video recording during data collection to contextualize the condition of data collection and allow possible further qualitative analysis.
Parents and/or guardians of children with no complaints of reading and writing difficulties were invited to a meeting at their school. During the meeting they were informed of the study purposes and were invited to participate. The parents or guardians who agreed to have their children participating signed the ICF. The anamnesis held with the parents allowed the investigation of possible complaints of reading and writing difficulties.
Following, the Information Questionnaire for Teachers and the protocol for Reading and Writing Assessment were applied. The hearing screening with a Pediatric Audiometer (PA) at 50 centimeters away from the ear and without visual cues was carried out at the intensity of 20 dB HL from 500 Hz to 4 kHz at to confirm that the participants had no hearing loss.
Children individually performed their written production; they were divided into small groups so they could not communicate to each other during the assessment. The assessment was conducted in a room designated by the school. The application of assessment with the two different stimuli was performed in two alternate days, always during the school period. The total time required to perform the data collection of all participants was three months.
Children were given the following oral instruction: "You will receive a picture and/or a series of pictures and will be asked to produce a written text about the picture". The figures in sequence were used on the first assessment and the action figure on the second assessment.
There was no time limit for the completion of written production, but the duration was recorded for subsequent analysis.
The written productions were qualitatively and quantitatively analyzed according to the adapted(14) communication skills criteria(4) (linguistic, generic and encyclopedic) (Appendix 3).
As for the quantitative analysis, each item, with the exception of discourse type, received a score according to the description and classification presented in Appendix 3. The overall score for each child in each assessment could range from zero to 22 points.
To ensure data reliability, five judges with experience and expertise in the area of reading and writing individually reviewed and scored all written productions after specific training.
Statistical tests were performed to compare the written productions based on the action figure and figures in sequence. In some cases, the distribution of results prevented the application of specific statistical tests.
The Wilcoxon test and the McNemar test were applied with a significance level of 5%.
Table 1 displays the comparisons between the overall mean scores provided by the judges for the written productions according to the visual stimuli used (sequence and action).
As to general competence, 100% of children produced narrative discourse for both stimuli. This result may have interfered in the time duration of written production preparation, which was similar for both stimuli.
Regarding encyclopedic competence, specifically encyclopedic knowledge, there was no difference between the two visual stimuli as 28% of children demonstrated partial knowledge on the topic (score 1) and 40% demonstrated total knowledge on the topic (score 2) (Table 2).
There were no differences between the two types of stimuli on comparisons according to topic reliability; 44.0% of children partially maintained the topic (score 1) and 24.0% maintained the topic (score 2) (Table 2).
The results showed no difference on the use of tittle according to the stimulus presented (Table 2). Only 20% of children exhibited proper use of title related to text production.
There was an indication that the action picture provided higher occurrence of intertextuality use, although it was not possible to apply statistical tests (Table 2).
Regarding the organization of ideas, there was no difference in the distribution of results between the two stimuli. The same was observed for the use of inferences: 52% of subjects presented appropriate inferences (score 2) for both stimuli (Table 2).
Comparing the use of vocabulary, it was observed that 88% of participants used simple vocabulary in the written productions independently of stimulus presented (Table 2).
As for linguistic competence, it was not possible to perform statistical analysis on text length as 60% of children performed texts considered long (five or more paragraphs) for both stimuli (Table 3).
Seventy-six percent of children improperly or insufficiently used punctuation on both stimuli. It was noted that 56% of children made five or more spelling errors, regardless of visual stimulus presented (Table 3).
There were no differences between the written productions for overall cohesion; 40% of children presented adequate cohesion for both stimuli (Table 3).
Furthermore, there was no difference in time children spent on the preparation of written productions on the two visual stimuli (Table 4).
The adequate selection of pictures might be a key element in the production of written discourse and guide the work of Speech-Language Pathologists and Educators. Therefore, this study aimed to analyze the influence of different visual stimuli on the written production of children with no complaints of writing difficulties. Importantly, the data were not comparatively analyzed between students of 4th and 5th grades as the sample could not be matched and the investigation of educational level effects was not the main purpose of this study.
The initial hypothesis was that the written productions based on action figures would provide narrative discourse and the productions based on figures in sequence would provide a more descriptive discourse given the very characteristic of each stimulus. This hypothesis was not confirmed as both types of pictures elicited similar discourses.
A possible explanation for the non-interference of visual stimuli type in the written production of children may be related to the content of figures. While it was sought to balance the selection of visual stimuli, it was noted only after the analysis that both pictures contained narrative trigger elements, being this a limitation of the study.
As to the general competence, narrative was found as a type of discourse in all written productions for both stimuli. This fact contradicts the literature, in which there seems to be a tendency that figures with simple temporal sequence favor descriptive production(7).
In the current study, the fact that the figures in sequence refer to themes related to vacation/travel - narratives usually explored in school - may have influenced the occurrence of this type of discourse. The results of a study on the written production of Brazilian children showed that, in initial grades, there is a trend for the production of texts without conventional characteristics of stories, such as notes and letters. As the literacy process develops, the written productions are modified and writing of stories appears to sharply progress along the school years(7).
Although the two visual stimuli have propitiated the development of the narrative discourse, it was found that some children produced narratives with argument signs when the stimuli were figures in sequence, suggesting that such stimulation triggers further elaboration of the discourse. Regarding narrator and character marking, it was observed that most children used this marking when the visual stimulus was the action figure.
Regarding encyclopedic competence, specifically to encyclopedic knowledge, the results indicate that children did not present facts related to world knowledge suggested by the images. This would be expected for such educational levels. The practice of reading and writing has unique characteristics and depend on the quality of teaching(15). It is also essential to consider the history of life, daily and social group activities, and socio-historical context of the school(16).
Regarding the reliability to the topic, vocabulary, and organization of ideas, there was no difference in results when comparing the produced elicited by the two stimuli. This can be justified by the use of narrative discourse, which requires a constant evaluation of the characters, the need to make decisions about the course of the story, and selection of linguistic expressions shared with readers(17).
Although there was no difference regarding intertextuality, the results suggest that the action figure allowed children to better use their previous knowledge, experience with other texts, and creativity(7). However, vocabulary was simple for written productions elicited by both stimuli and the use of title was also uncommon.
The fact that most children have used inference for both stimuli, albeit partially, can be explained by the presence of figurative elements, i.e., the visual language is the intention and the message the writer wants to convey, allowing the writer to make many inferences and interpretations(8).
The narrative provides important information about the linguistic competence and the pragmatic rules of language in which it is written, since writing stories requires the integration of several skills, besides organization of the linguistic material(18). Thus, on the linguistic competence, the length of the text, punctuation and spelling was analyzed. In addition, the overall cohesion was included on the analysis given the importance of this aspect on the written production.
The analysis of linguistic competence is closely linked to general competence as the narrative structure involves the organization of ideas in a logical and temporal sequence, which is demarcated by punctuation. Thus, the written text is conventionally presented in the form of paragraphs(19), the latter being boundaries that facilitate the reading process(20,21) and presentation of information(22). Adding to this, the divisions of paragraphs present the thematic discontinuity, and this may be related to: time, space, dramatic figure, topic or guidance(19).
Another fundamental language proficiency parameter analyzed was punctuation, as it indicates the limits of each paragraph and mark the intonation needed for reading. In the current study, the analysis of written production has shown that the use of punctuation was problematic independently of the visual stimuli presented. This may have occurred because the novice writer writes as if speaking, and, in speech, the contextualization is given by the simultaneous interaction between the sender and receiver of the message. Thus, the role of writing is not well established and can generate the risk of ambiguity by the absence or inadequacy of punctuation(23).
With regard to the orthographic analysis, the production of long texts can justify the high number of spelling errors, that is, the more you write, the more the text is subject to error. Nevertheless, it was noted that for both stimuli, longer texts did not mean better planned as children have shown results below expectations for their educational levels.
Orthographic writing corresponds to a difficult task since it requires a continuous and progressive learning that involves metacognitive and metagraphic (analysis of the spelling) processes to master the spelling rules. These skills should give the learner the ability to explain the reason of the written form of a word. The learner should not only master the alphabetic principle (phoneme-grapheme association) but also the standard spelling with its regularities and irregularities (metagraphic analysis and syntactic knowledge)(24).
As expected for elementary school students, most errors were found to be related to competing letters, which require morphological and linguistic knowledge that are not related to early literacy. The errors of multiple representations are observed in early grades and can persist until adulthood(25).
By analyzing the relationship between morphosyntactic knowledge and spelling performance of children from 2nd to 4th-graders from public and private schools in Recife, an evolution in the writing performance of words, pseudowords, and morphosyntactic knowledge was observed(26). However, in that study, students from public school exhibited poorer performance when compared to students from private schools.
A study with the purpose of analyzing the dictation performance of students in 4th grade of elementary school from public and private systems found difference between the two educational systems, suggesting that students from private schools seem to master the spelling system before those from public schools(27). In that study, the errors with higher occurrence were: multiple representations, rule generalization, omission of letters and absence of punctuation. Such errors were also observed in the current study.
The last aspect of linguistic competence to be discussed refers to the overall cohesion. Results showed that all subjects learned to use cohesion in a partial or total form for both stimuli. This is important to highlight since the average performance of children on other linguistic competence skills was median. Cohesion is a property that defines a good text, as opposed to the sequence of sentences(28). Perhaps this is an indicator that the children in the current study are initiating a written discourse organization process.
As noted, the performance of children was unsatisfactory in all competences and the ability of composing well-developed narratives must occur without external support(7). Therefore, the interference of quality of teaching on this process is suggested(29).
No differences were found concerning the time needed for preparation of written productions elicited by both visual stimuli. This may be explained by the predominance of narrative discourse on productions elicited by both stimuli.
Studies are the current one are essential for the establishment of normality ranges for parameters related to written productions of elementary school children. Furthermore, the use of visual stimuli to elicit written production might aid on such standardization. A pilot study for the selection of figures in sequence with well-defined and explicit actions regarding the temporal sequence is suggested. The action figure should contain a series of stimuli which, when combined, present a range of triggers of the aimed discourse type.
The visual stimuli presented did not interfere in the written production of children in relation to communication competence. The use of figures, both in sequence and action, stimulated production of narrative discourse. In relation to linguistic and encyclopedic competence, the results did not show an effect for figure type (sequence or action). However, it should be highlighted that children in the current study exhibited an underperformance when considering their educational level.
We thank the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo [São Paulo Research Foundation] (FAPESP) for the support granted to carry out this research, in the processes 2008/11474-5 and 2008/11478-0.
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Correspondence address: Received: 12/21/2010 Study conducted at the Reading and Writing Laboratory, Department Physical Therapy, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy, School of Medicine, Universidade de São Paulo - FMUSP - São Paulo (SP), Brazil.
Maria Silvia Cárnio
R. Cipotânea, 51, Cidade Universitária
São Paulo (SP), Brasil, CEP: 05360-160
* Alves D, Cárnio MS. Protocolos para avaliação de Leitura e Escrita. São Paulo: Departamento de Fisioterapia, Fonoaudiologia e Terapia Ocupacional da Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de São Paulo; 1999. [Unpublished protocol]
** Cárnio MS. Questionário Informativo para os Professores. São Paulo: Departamento de Fisioterapia, Fonoaudiologia e Terapia Ocupacional da Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de São Paulo; 2000. [Unpublished protocol]
Study conducted at the Reading and Writing Laboratory, Department Physical Therapy, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy, School of Medicine, Universidade de São Paulo - FMUSP - São Paulo (SP), Brazil.