Encyclopedia of Language and Literacy Development
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Glossary (A - Z)
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Browsing:  D
Declarative knowledge
Factual knowledge or knowledge about something (e.g., a student is able to describe a rule of grammar and apply it in practice drills).
Decoding
The ability to read unfamiliar words using letter-sound associations and phonics strategies. To be able to translate written words to their oral counterpart. The reader may or may not be able to understand text that is decoded.
Decomposition
A strategy that involves dividing a math problem into several smaller or easier to calculate subproblems to determine the answer.
Decontextualized language
Language used to discuss topics outside of the immediate physical environment.
Deductive reasoning
Working from a general concept or principle to a specific conclusion.
Derivational morphology
Changing the meaning of the word by adding components, such as prefixes and suffixes (e.g., the verb 'swim' with a suffix becomes the noun 'swimmer').
Derivational strategies
A method for making a word or sentence from another word or sentence (e.g., girl from girly).
Descriptive analysis
Type of analysis used for measures that cannot be quantified, such as level of grammar use.
Determiners
Words which are used in front of nouns to indicate reference to something specific in the context (e.g., 'the', 'an', 'a', 'my', 'this').
Developmental disorders
A general term for any significant handicap with onset before age 18 affecting adaptive, self-help, cognitive and/or social skills and which will continue for the life of the individual.
Developmental Dyscalculia (DD)
A specific learning disability affecting the acquisition of arithmetic skills in an otherwise normal child. Current data indicate that this learning disability is a brain-based disorder with a familial-genetic predisposition.
Developmental language disorder
A condition where a child learns their language more slowly than normal as compared to their peers.
Diagnostic categorization
Using distinguishing features that serve as supporting evidence to make a particular diagnosis.
Diagnostic criteria
Specific criteria established to aid in determining the unequivocal presence of a particular disorder.
Diagnostic evaluation
An investigation undertaken with the purpose of providing a thorough and scientific diagnosis.
Diagnostic measures
The tools used to determine a diagnosis.
Dialect
A variety of a language that is characteristic of a particular group of the language's speakers.
Dialogic reading
A form of book reading between an adult and a child involving a shared discussion.
Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI)
A special magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique that allows for the visualization of white matter in the brain.
Diglossia
A linguistic situation in which two varieties of the same language have a functional distribution, with the spoken variety used in informal and intimate contexts, and the written variety acquired through literacy and used in written and formal discourse (e.g., Standard German/Swiss German, Standard Arabic/vernacular Arabic, Standard French/Kréyòl in Haiti).
Direct mapping
The mental association formed between verbal and written symbols for numbers.
Direct object
Receives the action performed by the subject of a sentence (e.g., the boy hit the ball).
Discourse
Oral or written communication such as a conversation or story.
Discourse conventions
The generally accepted norms governing conversation, or connected speech/writing longer than a single sentence.
Discourse patterns
The logical arrangement of ideas in oral or written communication.
Discourse rules
The rules governing conversation, or connected speech/writing longer than a single sentence.
Discursive organization
The organization of thoughts or ideas within discourse.
Distance metric approach
A measure of similarity or dissimilarity that can be used to organize groups according to their degree of relation to one another.
Disyllabic
A word with two syllables.
Domain general
Knowledge that is from a broader area.
Domain specific knowledge
Knowledge that is strictly from a certain area or skill.
Dorsolateral
Situated on both the back and the side.
Double dissociation
The demonstration that two experimental manipulations each have different effects on two dependent variables; if one manipulation affects the first variable and not the second, the other manipulation affects the second variable and not the first. In cognitive neuroscience, double dissociation is an experimental technique by which two areas in the brain are functionally dissociated by two behavioral tests, each test being affected by a lesion in one zone and not the other.
Drill theory
Emphasizes the rote learning of facts (e.g., Thorndike, 1921).
Dynamic assessment
Follows a test-teach-retest format where a baseline score on a particular language skill is established and then a brief period of direct teaching is provided that includes "mediated learning".
Dysarthria
An impaired ability to speak, due to nerve or muscle problems.
Dyscalculia
A learning disability that involves difficulty in learning or comprehending mathematics. 
Dysfluent
The inability to read text quickly, accurately, and with proper expression.
Dyslexia
An inherited specific learning disability that makes it extremely difficult to read, write, and spell despite at least average intelligence. It is characterized by abilities below the expected level given a child's age, school grade, and intelligence.