First-, fourth-, and ninth-grade hearing students were administered randomly selected items from the Carolina Picture Vocabulary Test (CPVT; Layton & Holmes, 1985) to determine the degree to which signs used in the CPVT are iconic (see note) and can actually convey a sign's meaning at the moment of testing, thus providing an inflated vocabulary score. Hearing students were tested because they had no prior sign knowledge or experience. Results indicate that the signs used in the CPVT are sufficiently iconic to enable students unfamiliar with signs to identify a test picture; 73% of their responses were correct when chance selection was 25%. Such findings signal potential problems with existing receptive sign vocabulary tests; consequently, test results should be interpreted cautiously. Note: Not all signs are iconic. Iconic signs have semantic features nested in their formation, location, and movement that visually convey enough information to manifest word meaning. Formation, location, and movement are also called cheremic features of sign.


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pp. 334-338
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