Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


Date of this Version

December 2007


A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska in Partial Fulfillment of Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy; Major: Human Science (Communication Disorders); Under the Supervision of Professors Karen Hux and David R. Beukelman.
Lincoln, Nebraska; November 2007
Copyright © 2007 Aimee R. Dietz


This repeated measures investigation evaluated the impact of three levels of visuographic context—(a) photos of high-context scenes, (b) photos of low-context scenes, and (c) no-context—on the reading comprehension of narratives by people with chronic aphasia. The researcher defined high-context scenes as photographs in which people interact with each other, the natural environment, and the central action of the scene and low-context scenes as photographs with no central action and limited-to-no interaction between the people and the natural environment. Participants included 10 medically-stable adults with chronic aphasia and concomitant reading comprehension deficits. The participants read three different narratives, each presented with high, low, or no-context. The dependent measures were: (a) responses to a self-assessment questionnaire items using a Likert Scale, (b), reading comprehension accuracy measured in percent questions correct, and (c) response time measured in seconds. Outcomes revealed that participants overwhelmingly perceived pictures as helpful during the high-context condition and moderately helpful during the low-context condition. Further, the majority of the participants reported that pictures would have assisted them during the no-context condition. Likewise, people with chronic aphasia also reported that the narrative reading tasks were easier in the high- and low-context conditions than in the no-context condition. The results did not reveal a statistically significant difference across experimental conditions for accuracy. A potential explanation for this relates to the heterogeneity that existed within the participant pool regarding residual reading ability. Analysis of individual accuracy scores revealed a subgroup of participants who appeared to benefit from visuographic context. The results yielded significant differences for response time across the conditions. The outcomes of the current investigation suggest that contextually-rich visuographic information is supportive to at least some individuals with chronic aphasia when they perform reading comprehension tasks. The results are discussed in relation to the theoretical frameworks of the resource allocation theory of aphasia and construction-integration model of reading.
Advisors: Karen Hux and David R. Beukelman

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