The index of narrative microstructure: A clinical tool for analyzing school-age children's narrative performances

Laura M. Justice, Ryan P. Bowles, Joan N. Kaderavek, Teresa A. Ukrainetz, Sarita L. Eisenberg, Ronald B. Gillam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

180 Scopus citations


Purpose: This research was conducted to develop a clinical tool-the Index of Narrative Microstructure (INMIS)-that would parsimoniously account for important microstructural aspects of narrative production for school-age children. The study provides field test age- and grade-based INMIS values to aid clinicians in making normative judgments about microstructural aspects of pupils' narrative performance. Method: Narrative samples using a single-picture elicitation context were collected from 250 children age 5-12 years and then transcribed and segmented into T-units. A T-unit consists of a single main clause and any dependent constituents. The narrative transcripts were then coded and analyzed to document a comprehensive set of microstructural indices. Results: Factor analysis indicated that narrative microstructure consisted of 2 moderately related factors. The Productivity factor primarily comprised measures of word output, lexical diversity, and T-unit output. The Complexity factor comprised measures of syntactic organization, with mean length of T-units in words and proportion of complex T-units loading most strongly. Principal components analysis was used to provide a linear combination of 8 variables to approximate the 2 factors. Formulas for calculating a student's performance on the 2 factors using 8 narrative measures are provided. Conclusions: This study provided a method for professionals to calculate INMIS scores for narrative Productivity and Complexity for comparison against field test data for age (5- to 12-year-old) or grade (kindergarten to Grade 6) groupings. INMIS scores complement other tools in evaluating a child's narrative performance specifically and language abilities more generally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-191
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican journal of speech-language pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2006


  • Language assessment
  • Narrative assessment
  • Narrative development
  • School-age language


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