Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Kimberly Wolbers

Committee Members

David Cihak, Patrick Biddix, David Smith


Given the novelty of ASL in Deaf education, there is still much to explore about the specific techniques used to foster Deaf children’s language development. The use of ASL rhyme and rhythm with young Deaf children is one of the approaches that remain understudied. This single-subject study compared the effects of rhyming and non-rhyming conditions of ASL stories on the engagement behavior and accuracy in recitation of 10 Deaf children between the ages of three and six years old in an ASL/English bilingual early childhood classroom. With the application of an alternating treatments design with initial baseline, it is the first experimental research of its kind on ASL rhyme and rhythm. Baseline data revealed the lack of handshape rhyme awareness in participants and informed the decision to provide an intervention as an added condition to examine the effects of explicit instruction on increasing engagement behavior and accuracy in recitation. There were four phases in total: baseline, handshape rhyme awareness intervention, alternating treatments, and preference. Visual analysis and total mean and mean difference procedures were employed to analyze results. Overall, the rhyming condition was the favorable treatment in increasing imitating behavior during viewing. The rhyming condition also prompted an increased number of words signed correctly and words signed in the correct order during recitation. Other variables such as having larger vocabulary knowledge, age-appropriate language skills, higher handshape rhyme awareness, and being older also impacted the results. This handshape rhyme awareness intervention should be taken into consideration for future replications.


Portions of this document were previously published in book chapters and journals.

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