First Advisor

Stephen A. Kosokoff

Term of Graduation

Fall 1997

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Speech Communication


Speech and Hearing Sciences







Physical Description

1 online resource (51 pages)


Stuttering identification, measurement, research, and treatment have for many years had their basis in listener judgment of stuttering, but the covert aspects of stuttering are not behaviorally observable, and inter-rater reliability has repeatedly been shown to be low. Perkins (1990) has emphasized the importance of consulting the speaker for the most reliable perspective on stuttering identification. The question raised in this study is whether there is a significant correlation between stuttering identification based upon internal perception by a speaker who stutters, and identification based upon external perception of listeners, with points of inter-rater disagreement removed. Six adult males, aged 18 to 47, who stutter with at least moderate severity read 25 sentences aloud and marked perceived points of stuttering as they occurred. Eight speech-language pathology graduate students listened to the same audiotaped samples and marked points where they perceived stuttering. Points where at least 7 listeners agreed that stuttering was or was not present were compared to speaker perceptions. Findings were analyzed using Cohen's kappa (Cohen, 1960), a correlation measure which controls for chance agreement. Results showed a kappa correlation of .276 which was significant at the 12 = .001 level. While this correlation is highly significant, it is representative of very poor agreement, kappas of greater than . 70 being acceptably high to show strong agreement. Few instances of stuttering actually occurred for 5 out of 6 speakers, so agreement was based largely on fluent speech. When analyzed separately by speaker, kappas ranged from .176 to .887, but could not be calculated for 3 speakers as there were no instances where stuttering was perceived by 7 out of 8 listeners. Out of a possible 2,040 points of agreement, 70 were not analyzed due to listener disagreement. These results suggest that, while speakers and listeners generally agree in their perceptions of fluent speech, agreement between speakers and listeners regarding stuttered speech is low. If we take speaker perception to be the standard of reliability, this study suggests that our accepted methods of stuttering identification and measurement in research and treatment assessment, baseline measurement, tracking, and measurement of progress are highly suspect.


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