Stories are coded for the information that they contain that correspond to a story grammar (SG) unit. SG units are units of information that are characteristic of stories judged by adults and children to be “good” stories (Stein & Policastro, 1984). (See the first section of the Manual for a more complete explanation of the Story Grammar model.) The analysis uses only
Story A1 and Story A3. The basic units are described below.
Story Grammar Scoring Sheets
Story Grammar Normative Tables
Instructions for Scoring Story Grammar
Stories are coded for the information that they contain that corresponds to a story grammar (SG) unit. SG units are units of information that are characteristic of stories judged by adults and children to be "good" stories (Stein & Policastro, 1984). The basic units are described below.
Story Grammar Units
- Characters in the story
- Location, activity, and/or habitual state or characteristic ('he was always hungry'; 'she liked to read')
- Initiating Event [IE] -- event that sets off the story's events -- will cause the protagonist to respond in some way, evokes an immediate response
- Internal Response [IR] -- reaction of protagonist to the initiating event. It can be expressed in dialogue, e.g., oh no! expresses an internal response
- Internal Plan [IP] of protagonist to deal with the IE
- Attempt [ATT] to obtain the goal
- Outcome or Consequence of the attempt
- Reaction [R] -- how the character(s) feel or think about the outcome, or how they react physically (e.g., run away)
In the ENNI, stories A1 and A3 have been analysed for Story Grammar (Schneider, Hayward, & Dubé, 2006). The Story Grammar scoring sheets specify what should count as each unit in these stories.
An important aspect of Story Grammar is the notion of goal-directed activity. Thus many of the units are coded with regard to goal-directedness. For example, a character may have an emotion at any time in the story; it is only scored as Internal Response if it is related to the Initiating Event of the story (even if the child does not provide the IE), or as a Reaction if it is a reaction to the Outcome (again, even if not explicitly stated by the child). If it is an emotion that occurs elsewhere, it is not scored.
Three SG Units are considered to be "core" units: Initiating Event, Attempt, and Outcome. For this reason they are scored 2 points rather than 1.
The reason for using Story Grammar is to capture the elements that need to be included in the story for it to be considered an adequate story. The concern is whether or not a child is telling a story that will be understandable to the listener. Some children may tell stories that include much more detail; while these might be preferred on esthetic grounds over simpler stories, the score may not turn out to be higher for such stories because the scoring focus is on basic SG information.
Note that the emphasis is on relating what the child says to the scoring system. You may feel that a unit is actually being used as a different SG unit than the one in the scoring sheet (e.g., what we call "setting" is functioning as IE in the child’s story). However, it should still be scored as it is listed on the scoring sheet.
The scoring sheets for each story give typical acceptable responses for each SG unit. The list is not exhaustive. If another response is given credit, note it down.
Scoring conventions for particular SG units
Give credit if a noun (not a pronoun) is used to mention a character for the first time, regardless of the noun chosen. Proper nouns are acceptable. The only pronoun that is acceptable is if the child puts him/herself into the story and uses I/me, as in: "Me and the elephant were by the pool one day".
Score wherever the character is first mentioned, even if late in the story.
Distinguishing IP from Attempt
IP is an indication of planning, e.g., the character decides to... or thinks he will....
Attempt is an indication of action to attain the goal, including movement towards the action, e.g., the character tries to...., goes to...., is going to.....
Internal Response and Reaction:
Accept any plausible emotion or response, as long as it is a response to an IE (for IR) or outcome (for Reaction). The IE or Outcome do not have to be provided for the child to get credit for IR or Reaction. Emotions can be inferred from speech; for example, She said, Oh no! implies that a character is upset.
There could be other emotions or responses that occur in other parts of the story; for example, the elephant could be worried that the giraffe will drown when getting the ball. That does not get credit for any story grammar element.
General scoring conventions
Scoring very 'sketchy' transcripts: Keep in mind that you are scoring the stories as expressive language samples, not as a comprehension task. Therefore the child should get credit for a story grammar unit only if the listener would be able to understand. If a child has provided incomplete units, judge them according to whether a listener could understand them without knowing the story or seeing the pictures. For example, if a child says "bouncing" for the first picture, do not give it credit as setting, since there is not enough information. However, if a child says "happy" or "thank you" at the end of the story, give credit for Reaction, since it is at least clear that someone is happy or grateful.
Scoring utterances with unclear referents: If a child provides something that qualifies as a story grammar unit but it is not clear which character was involved, generally you can still give credit for the unit. For example, if a child says, "he jumps in the water to get it", without having previously mentioned the giraffe, you can give credit for Attempt. Even if the child does not use a pronoun (e.g., "jumps in water"), you can still give credit for Attempt without any indication of who made the attempt. (Of course, if you are scoring for a character, then a pronoun is not normally acceptable – see above.)
Below are some examples of Story Grammar scoring. We would recommend that you try scoring the stories and then compare your scoring to ours.