Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Sciences and Disorders

First Advisor

Paul R. Hoffman

Second Advisor

Janet A. Norris


This study compared phonological and language changes that occurred in preschool phonologically-impaired children following treatment via a discrete phonological process targeting approach or a whole language approach. It was hypothesized that a treatment program utilizing a communication-based, whole language approach would result in improvements in various language domains (e.g., phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics), while treatment targeting a specific aspect of language, that is, phonology, would result in improvements limited to that specific domain. Subjects were eight preschool children, 3-4 years of age, exhibiting multiple articulation errors, and randomly assigned to one of two intervention programs for a six-week period. The phonological process approach targeted the most salient error pattern exhibited by subjects in this group (i.e., Consonant Cluster Reduction or Fronting) through practice in production and perception of affected minimal pair contrasts. The whole language approach focused on improving the child's ability to formulate and express useful language in a communicative setting through production of narratives, while expanding and increasing complexity of narrative structure. Pretreatment and posttreatment measures of phonological and language performance were used to compare the efficacy of the two treatment approaches. The assessment battery included assessment of single word performance on tests administered, connected speech performance on various tasks (e.g., storytelling; relating familiar experiences) and higher level language performance, including syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic measures. Data analysis revealed that while all subjects demonstrated improved phonological performance, subjects in the whole language group demonstrated a greater degree of improvement than those in the phonological process group. In addition, the whole language group showed larger gains in syntactic, morphological, semantic, and pragmatic expression. These results suggest the need for further studies that evaluate treatment efficacy by utilizing a whole language approach as compared to a discrete phonological approach with young phonologically-impaired children.