DeLTA Center Student Grant Presentations
Maura Curran and Jess Hall will discuss their study design and report on pilot results of research for which they've received funding from the DeLTA Center.
9:00 a.m.: Maura Curran
Causal Adverbial Production, Language Intervention and Science Learning
Abstract: Language serves as an essential resource to learn about cause and effect throughout childhood. Causal adverbial sentences use causal conjunctions (e.g., because, so) to join two clauses to express cause-effect relationships (Diessel & Hetterle, 2011). Grammatical skill and content knowledge interact throughout the development of causal adverbials. Preschool children demonstrate high accuracy on comprehension and production for familiar causal relationships, such as common social emotional events. However, they exhibit frequent reversal errors for unfamiliar relationships, including physical causes (French, 1988; Johnston & Welsh, 2000). Causal adverbials are frequently used to explain causal relationships in elementary school academic settings, and skill with causal adverbials may affect acquisition of this type of academic content (e.g. Williams et al., 2014). Children with specific language impairment (SLI) are at risk for failure in these academically relevant language skills. This study examines the effect of language intervention for causal adverbials on production of casual adverbials for familiar and unfamiliar content, and the potential influence of such intervention on acquisition of academic content during science instruction for young students with SLI. This will identify the potential for intervention to positively affect causal language and academic skills, and clarify the relationship between content knowledge and grammatical skill.
9:45 a.m.: Jess Hall
Individual Differences in Online Language Processing
Abstract: Distributional information is present in language on many levels, from the phonological to the syntactic. For example, distributional information tells us that an initial /p/ allophone only
appears at the beginning of words, and word final /p/ allophone only at the end. Distributional information also informs where a verb is likely to appear, for example, with a direct object or prepositional phrase. I will present data on several studies that provide evidence that distributional information in language may be less well utilized by individuals with language impairment (LI). The use of online measures across these studies reveals subtle differences in individuals with LI at older ages, particularly as relates to the utilization of distributional information in the linguistic environment. The first looks at word recognition in adolescents with and without LI. Eye tracking measures reveal different looking patterns between groups. In another study, I use a mouse tracking paradigm to determine sensitivity to verb bias, the likelihood of a verb appearing in a specific syntactic context, in college students with LI. The task involves disambiguating ambiguous sentences through the utilization of distributional information associated with the verb. Again we see
differences in mouse trajectory patterns between groups. The influence of distributional learning, text exposure, and vocabulary on task performance are explored.