Julien Mayor and Nivedita Mani (2019)

A short version of the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories with high validity

Behavior Research Methods, 51(5):2248-2255.

The MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories (CDIs) are among the most widely used evaluation tools for early language development. CDIs are filled in by the parents or caregivers of young children by indicating which of a prespecified list of words and/or sentences their child understands and/or produces. Despite the success of these instruments, their administration is time-consuming and can be of limited use in clinical settings, multilingual environments, or when parents possess low literacy skills. We present a new method through which an estimation of the full-CDI score can be obtained, by combining parental responses on a limited set of words sampled randomly from the full CDI with vocabulary information extracted from the WordBank database, sampled from age-, gender-, and language-matched participants. Real-data simulations using versions of the CDI-WS for American English, German, and Norwegian as examples revealed the high validity and reliability of the instrument, even for tests having just 25 words, effectively cutting administration time to a couple of minutes. Empirical validations with new German-speaking participants confirmed the robustness of the test.

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