Mira & Schwanenflugel (2013)

Comparison Research

 NOTE:  Scroll about 2/3 of the way down for the Summary section.

SOURCE:  Mira, W. A., & Schwanenflugel, P. J. (2013). The impact of reading expressiveness on listening comprehension of storybooks by prekindergarten children. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 44, 183- 194.



DATE:  12.15.13


ASSIGNED GRADE FOR OVERALL QUALITY:  (The highest possible grade is A.)


TAKE AWAY:  This is not an intervention study; rather it is a comparison of the effectiveness of expressive reading on the comprehension of storybooks. The investigators demonstrated a moderate improvement in reading comprehension  as assessed using a cued recall, but not a free recall task, during expressive storybook reading.


1.  What type of evidence was identified?

a.  What was the type of evidence? Prospective, Randomized Group Design with Controls

b.  What was the focus of the research?  Clinically Related 

c.  What was the level of support associated with the type of evidence?  Level = A


2.  Group membership determination:

a.  If there were groups, were participants randomly assigned to groups?  Yes.  However, the randomization was only partial: randomization was for expressive versus inexpressive and the 2 different books but not for natural versus controlled timing.  Condition and story were counterbalanced.


b.  If there were groups and participants were not randomly assigned to groups, were members of groups carefully matched?  Unclear


3.  Were experimental conditions concealed?                      

a.  from participants?  No

b.  from administrators of experimental conditions?  No

c.  from analyzers/judges?             No


4.  Were the groups adequately described?  No

a.         How many participants were involved in the study?

•  total # of participant:  92

•  # of groups:  8

•  # of participants in each group:  (see next item for explanation of labels of groups)

– 1ExN =  12

– 1ExC =  10

– 1IN =  11

– 1IC =  10  

– 2ExN =  12

– 2ExC =  11

– 2IN =  12

– 2IC =  11

•  List names of groups: 

     –  Story 1 Expressive-Natural timing (1ExN);

–  Story 1 Expressive- Controlled timing (1ExC);

–  Story 1 Inexpressive-Natural timing (1IN);

–  Story 1 Inexpressive-Controlled timing (1IC) 

     –  Story 2 Expressive-Natural timing (2ExN);

–  Story 2 Expressive- Controlled timing (2ExC);

–  Story 2 Inexpressive-Natural timing (2IN);

–  Story 2 Inexpressive-Controlled timing (2IC) 

•  Did all groups maintain membership?   Unclear—3 Ps dropped out of the investigation. It was not clear to which group(s) they belonged.



–  The following variables were controlled

•  educational level of clients: “public lottery funded prekindgarten program in a public school setting” (p. 186)

–  The following variables were described:

•  age:  57.26 months

•  gender:  51%m, 49%f 

•  SES:  generally middle class

•  educational level of mothers:

–  did not finish high school: 1.1%

–  high school diploma: 10.1%

–  technical degree: 1.1%

–  some college: 5.6%

–  bachelor’s degree: 31.6%

–  advanced degree: 24.7%

–  no information: 25.8%

•  special education:  1 child referred; 1 child received  speech therapy

•  Hearing:  no reported problems 


c.   Were the groups similar before intervention began?  Unclear


d.  Were the communication problems adequately described? No information was provided except for the note that one child received speech therapy.


5.  What were the different conditions for this research? 

a.  Subject (Classification) Groups?  No.

b.  Experimental Conditions? Yes. The different conditions were

•  Storybook:  1 = Forget-Me-Not; 2 = The Magic Rabbit

•  Expressiveness:  Ex = expressive;  I  =  inexpressive  (major difference in pitch variability)

•  Timing:  N = natural;  c = controlled  (natural E and I versions manipulated so that they had the same length/duration)


c.  Criterion/Descriptive Conditions?


6.   Were the groups controlled acceptably? Unclear 


7.  Were dependent measures appropriate and meaningful?  Yes

a.  The dependent measures were                                              

 • DEPENDENT MEASURE #1:  Proportion of idea units in response responses to free recall questions

  • DEPENDENT MEASURE #2:  Correct responses to cued recall questions

b.  The dependent measures that were subjective are

 DEPENDENT MEASURE #1:  Proportion of idea units in response responses to free recall questions

  DEPENDENT MEASURE #2:  Correct responses to cued recall questions


c.  None of the dependent measures were objective?  


8.  Were reliability measures provided?

a.  Interobserver for analyzers?  Yes

DEPENDENT MEASURE #1:  Proportion of idea units in response to free recall questions:  0.933

DEPENDENT MEASURE #2:  Correct responses to cued recall questions; 0.913


b.  Intraobserver for analyzers?  No


c.  Treatment fidelity for investigators?  No 


9.  Description of design: 

  experimental design

•  2 (story book: Forget-Me-Not; The Magic Rabbit) x 2 (expressiveness of read story:  expressive; inexpressive) x 2 (timing:  natural; controlled)

•  between subject design


10.  What were the results of the statistical (inferential) testing?

a.  Comparisons that are significant  (p ≤ 0.05) are

  DEPENDENT MEASURE #2:  Correct responses to cued recall questions (p = 0.015; compared post experiment scores of  Expressive and Inexpressive groups)

b.  What was the statistical test used to determine significance?

•  MANOVA:  For both dependent measures

c.  Were effect sizes provided?  Yes

•  Comparing post experiment scores of Expressive and Inexpressive groups:

DEPENDENT MEASURE #1:  Proportion of idea units in response to free recall questions: d = 0. 36 (small treatment effect)

DEPENDENT MEASURE #2:  Correct responses to cued recall questions; d= 0.54 (moderate treatment effect)


d.  Were confidence interval (CI) provided?  No


11.  Brief summary of clinically relevant results: 

•  Expressive readings of storybooks result in significantly improved rate of answering questions (but not free recall questions) about the reading among typically developing preschoolers.








PURPOSE:  To investigate the effectiveness of expressive reading of storybooks on the comprehension of typically developing preschoolers.

POPULATION:  typically developing preschoolers


MODALITY TARGETED:  comprehension




OTHER ASPECTS OF LANGUAGE/COMMUNICATION TARGETED: comprehension of storybooks: free recall; cued recall

DOSAGE:  one session, about 20 minutes in length; sessions were individual




1. Experimenters (E) prerecorded audios of each of conditions using the same female speaker.

2.  E sat with P as the audio played.  E turned the pages in time with the audio.

3.  After the story, E elicited free recall of the narrative by asking a standard question and, if necessary, using standard prompts.

4.  After the free recall task, E elicited cued recall asking a series of prescribed questions.


•  There were 3 conditions:

1.  Storybook (2 different books)

2.  Expressiveness of reading (Expressive versus Inexpressive)

–  For the most part, expressiveness was represented by larger pitch ranges (variability), although the mean pitch was similar.

–  Natural versus controlled prosody conditions were differentiated by timing factors. In the controlled condition, the expressive and inexpressive readings were approximately the same duration. (In natural condition, expressive was longer than inexpressive.) This was accomplished by acoustically manipulating the audios thereby reducing pause time in expressive conditions and lengthening pauses in the inexpressive condition.


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