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MacArthur CDI

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 8 months ago



The MacArthur Communicative Development Inventory


What is it?

The MacArthur Communicative Development Inventory (CDI) is a standardised parent reporting system used to assess monolingual children’s lexical growth.


How does it work?

The CDI comes in two scales: the infant scale (covering the period from 8 to 16 months) and the toddler scale (from 16 to 30 months). The infant scale looks at comprehension, word production and aspects of symbolic and communicative gesture. The toddler scale examines word production and the early phases of grammar. The CDI requires parents or caretakers to report on their children’s progress by observing them for periods lasting between 15 and 45 minutes. For the infant scale, during these observation sessions the parents/caretakers match words comprehended and spontaneously produced by the children in separate columns. For the toddler scale, the parents / caretakers match the number of words repeatedly produced by the children with those on the CDI scale.



The CDI has provided valuable information on the shape and nature of monolingual children first words and sentences; on the range of variability in healthy children from 8 to 30 months; on the influence or otherwise of demographic factors (e.g., sex differences are much smaller than previously believed); and on the close relationship between vocabulary development and the emergence of grammar.

The CDI has had a broad impact upon the field of monolingual children’s vocabulary acquisition, and adaptations of the instrument into other languages have been developed, namely Italian (Camaioni, Caselli, Longobardi and Volterra, 1991), Japanese (Ogura, 1991), Spanish (Jackson-Maldonado, 1990), and American Sign Language (Reilly, 1992). The CDI has also been used to study the lexical growth of bilingual, Spanish – English, children (Pearson and Fernández, 1994).


Links and References

Camaioni, L, MC Caselli, E Longobardi and V Volterra. 1991. ‘A parent report instrument for early language assessment’. First Language, 11, 345-59.

Fenson, L, P Dale, JS Reznick, D Thal, E Bates,  J Hartung, S Pethick, and J Reilly. 1993. MacArthur Communicative Inventories: User’s Guide and Technical Manual. San Diego: Singular Publishing Group.

Pearson, BZ SC Fernández. 1994. Patterns in the Lexical Growth in Two Languages of Bilingual Infants and Toddlers. Language Learning 44, 617-53.

Reznick, JS and S Goldsmith. 1989. Assessing early language: A multiple form word production checklist. Journal of Child Language, 16, 91-100.





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