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IES Grant

Title: Developmental Relations Between Language Ability and Behavior Problems
Center: NCSER Year: 2018
Principal Investigator: Chow, Jason Awardee: Virginia Commonwealth University
Program: Early Career Development and Mentoring      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (08/01/2018 - 07/31/2022) Award Amount: $395,278
Goal: Training Award Number: R324B180008
Description:

Mentors: Sutherland, Kevin; Langberg, Joshua; Kaiser, Ann

Purpose: The Principal Investigator (PI) will conduct a program of research to better understand relations between oral language and behavior problems in young children while participating in mentoring and training activities to develop expertise in language development, advanced longitudinal analyses, school-based research partnerships, and grant writing and management. The PI intends to conduct a longitudinal investigation to explore relations between language and behavior among young children at risk for language disorders, behavior disorders, or both. Despite known relations between language and behavior problems, the majority of children with emotional and behavioral disorder (EBD) are likely to have unidentified language impairments, as problem behaviors are often a more immediate concern and overshadow language impairments. Given that language impairments are associated with poor academic outcomes, interventions for children with EBD that focus solely on behavior may be failing to address a core mechanism underlying their academic impairment, which is why a better understanding of how language and behavior interact is essential before moving toward the development of interventions aimed at improving outcomes for this population of children. Thus, the primary research aim of this project is to evaluate the longitudinal associations between language ability and behavior problems as well as their associations with achievement.

Research Plan: The PI will conduct an exploratory study to address the following specific aims: (1) examine longitudinal associations between language impairments and behavior problems, (2) examine how changes in language ability and behavior problems influence academic achievement, (3) compare the relations of teacher-ratings of language and behavior to direct assessments of language and behavior, and (4) conduct exploratory analyses of potential moderators and mediators of associations between language and behavior (i.e., gender, pre-K exposure, attention, and socioeconomic status). During Year 1, the PI will recruit the first cohort of kindergarten students (and their teachers) to participate in the study. Students will be screened using a language assessment and a behavior rating scale to identify approximately equal numbers of students at risk for language disorders, students at risk for emotional and behavioral disorders, students at risk for both disorders, and a group of students who are not at risk. Students who meet inclusion criteria will participate in further direct and observational assessments of language and behavior, during the fall and spring of Year 1. Participating teachers will also complete assessments of students' language, behavior, and attention at both time points. During Year 2, Cohort 1 students and teachers will complete assessments at two more time points, in the fall and spring. Measures of achievement will also be collected at the first and last time point. At the end of Year 2, data collection for Cohort 1 will be completed. Years 3 and 4 will mirror Years 1 and 2 but with a second cohort of students and their teachers. Data will be analyzed using latent change score models to address the specific research aims.

Career Plan: Through a career development plan, the PI aims to (a) establish a line of inquiry aimed at understanding developmental relations between language and behavior, (b) develop knowledge and skills in advanced longitudinal analyses, (c) enhance skills related to establishing and maintaining partnerships with schools and districts, and (d) develop grant-writing and grant-management skills. To accomplish these goals, the PI will participate in biweekly meetings with mentors, advanced statistical training workshops, advisory board meetings with senior researchers and methodologists, and national conferences.


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