Written Persuasive Discourse Abilities of Adolescents with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Thesis DisciplineSpeech and Language Therapy
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Speech and Language Therapy
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the performance of adolescents with traumatic brain injury on a written persuasive discourse task. Nine adolescents with TBI (mean age = 14 years 4 months) and nine age, gender and education matched peers completed a written essay on the topic of whether trained animals in circuses should be allowed to perform for the public. Language measures included productivity (number of words, number of T-units and mean length of T-unit) and complexity (number of clauses, clause density and clause breakdown). Pragmatic measures were drawn from the developmental persuasive discourse literature and included essential elements of argument (claim, number of reasons, number of elaborations, conclusion, irrelevancies, repetition of information and attitude). In comparison to their age-matched peers, the TBI group produced significantly fewer reasons to support their claims, significantly more repetitions of information and failed to take alternative perspectives on the topic. There were no significant differences on any measures of language productivity or complexity, however the TBI group performed consistently below their peers on these measures. The results are discussed alongside current literature in the field of discourse production and persuasion. Implications for clinical practice and future directions for research in this area are also offered.