Date of Award

Spring 3-27-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Health Sciences


Health and Medical Sciences


Nina Capone Singleton, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Anthony Koutsoftas, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Terrence Cahill, Ed.D.


idiom, intervention, semantics, SLI, scaffolding, word learning


Purpose: The aim of this study was to examine the effect of two idiom interventions by students with Specific Language Impairment (SLI). Idioms are linguistic expressions that have figurative meanings other than their literal interpretation. There is a strong correlation between idiom interpretation and academic success (Nippold & Martin, 1989). Students are exposed to idioms in media, in school, literature, and in daily interactions with peers and adults (Nippold, Moran, & Schwarz, 2001).Method: Three school-aged students (n=3) with SLI ages 11;9–13;8 (mean age = 12;8) were provided a language intervention for idioms embedded in stories with pictures (n=10) and without pictures (n=10). All participants were tested and treated in their home environments. The Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals Sentence Recall subtest, One Word Vocabulary Word Test, and Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals Metalinguistic Figurative Language subtest were administered as well as Verbal Explanation Probes, Comprehension Probes, and Generalization Probes. A Single Subject Experimental Design (SSED) tracked performance. Visual analysis and PEM determined the participants’ determined response to treatment.Results: All participants were better able to explain, understand, and generalize idioms following intervention. However, participants responded to one or the other visual cue individually. Direct, explicit instruction improved the results of the participants. Discussion: Idioms are a figurative language form that are frequent in academic and social contexts of children with SLI. Children with SLI potentially respond well when given repeated exposures to figurative language forms, and can take advantage of visual cues to disambiguate their meanings, map and retain their forms.