Assessment, Narratives and Developmental Language Disorder: Learning from a Dynamic Approach

  • Louise Gallagher Sterritt

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Health (DHealth)


Oral narration/storytelling is important to Irish children and the skill remains key across the lifespan. Narratives comprise a number of linguistic elements (e.g. syntax, morphology, semantics, pragmatics) and children who have Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) are particularly vulnerable to experiencing difficulties with storytelling. There is a lack of research, both in Ireland and internationally, examining complementary benefits of static and dynamic assessment practices, parent interview and naturalistic language elicitation as part of a multi-source functional, more panoramic narrative assessment battery.

Action research encompassed three cycles.
In Cycle 1, ten Irish SLTs participated in focused group and semi-structured interviews: five specialised/experienced in DLD and five non-specialised from primary/community care. The aim of this cycle was to ascertain the elements of oral narrative assessment considered important to specialised and non-specialised SLTs.
In Cycle 2, three school-aged children with DLD, attending language classes, and their parents participated, illustrating the use of a multi-source assessment strategy comprising static and dynamic assessment, naturalistic language elicitation and parent interview.
In Cycle 3, SLTs were re-interviewed and asked to respond to data from each element of a narrative assessment profile. The aim of this cycle was to collaboratively evaluate and compare the importance and clinical utility of each assessment source.

Irish SLTs consider narrative skills to have considerable real-life value, although they tend not to be directly assessed. The data analysed are used to discuss the contributions of various elements of assessment in the context of establishing tenets for future clinical practice.

The research offers unique insights into Irish SLT clinical practices in relation to narrative assessment, as well as valuable SLT commentary, and analysis, regarding static and dynamic assessment, parent interview, naturalistic language elicitation and teacher interview/collaboration. Envisaged benefits and potential challenges relating to more comprehensive, ecologically-valid assessment protocols are discussed. 
Date of Award22 Jun 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorDavid Wainwright (Supervisor), Jill Porter (Supervisor) & Carol-Anne Murphy (Supervisor)


  • Speech and Language Therapy
  • Developmental Language Disorder
  • Specific Language Impairment
  • Oral narratives
  • Storytelling
  • Static assessment
  • Dynamic assessment
  • Narration
  • School-aged children
  • Language Class
  • Language assessment
  • Narrative assessment
  • Ireland
  • Parent interview
  • Parent Responses
  • Speech & Language Therapists
  • SLT
  • Naturalistic language elicitation

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