Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name



Communication Sciences and Disorders

First Advisor

Margaret Greenwald


The purpose of the current study was to examine the role of intonation skills in the reading comprehension of fourth-grade students. Although, the National Reading Panel's (2000) definition of reading fluency as "...the ability to read a text quickly, accurately, and with proper expression..." (p. 3-5) suggests a role for prosody and intonation in reading, these features have not figured prominently in reading research and studies that have examined the relationship between intonation and reading have reported varying results. The current study adopted the view that intonation is one of the many linguistic skills that support children's reading skills. From this perspective, the study examined the relationship between intonation and reading comprehension within the framework of the Simple View of Reading (SVR), a model that describes reading comprehension as the product of decoding and linguistic comprehension. Based on previous work by Miller and Schwanenflugel (2006, 2008), the study examined whether children who produced wider or more adult-like final rising intonation contours demonstrated greater reading comprehension than children who produced narrower or less adult-like final rising contours? The current study did not find support for a relationship between children's productions of wider or more adult-like final rising intonation contours and their reading comprehension. The current study also examined whether inclusion of measures of intonation in the SVR accounted for additional variance in reading comprehension. The results supported inclusion of two intonation variables: 1) accuracy in producing appropriate final intonation contour direction to mark questions when reading; and 2) ability on the receptive subtests of the Profiling Elements of Prosodic Systems-Child assessment procedure (PEPS-C; Peppé & McCann, 2003), a computerized assessment of intonation. Additional statistical analyses indicated that the Chunking Reception and Contrastive Stress Reception subtests of the PEPS-C showed the strongest relationship with reading comprehension. Finally, inclusion of these intonation variables in a SVR framework reduced the significance of the relationship between the decoding and reading comprehension variables.