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IES Grant

Title: Development of a Culturally-Based Language and Vocabulary Intervention for Elementary School Children with Language Impairments and Children who are at High Risk for Developing Learning Disabilities
Center: NCSER Year: 2006
Principal Investigator: Loeb, Diane Awardee: University of Kansas
Program: Reading, Writing, and Language      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3/1/2006 to 2/28/2009 Award Amount: $770,621
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324L060012
Description:

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to develop an intervention program that is more culturally relevant and improves the vocabulary, narrative, phonological awareness, and reading skills of children from different cultures and for children from low socioeconomic homes. Past research had demonstrated differential impacts for different groups of kids. In a clinical trial that assessed the potential efficacy of school-age language intervention programs, substantially fewer gains were found for children from low socioeconomic homes and children who were African American, Latino, or Native American when compared to children who were Caucasian and from families of high socioeconomic status. These results suggested the need for interventions to be developed with specific cultural relevance to more effectively serve children from different backgrounds.

Project Activities: The researchers developed culturally-based language and vocabulary interventions for school-aged children from Native American and Latino cultures. In the first year, the existing intervention program, which was found to be efficacious, was modified to be more culturally relevant by using storybooks that focus on the values and beliefs associated with Native American and Hispanic American cultures. The researchers then assessed the potential efficacy of the modified language intervention in a preliminary study with Native American and Hispanic children who had language impairments or were at risk for learning disability. Preliminary data was analyzed to determine the potential of the modified language intervention for improving the language outcomes for children with language impairments and children at risk for learning disabilities from Native American and Hispanic cultures.

Products: The products from this project include a modified, culturally relevant language and vocabulary intervention; a related training program for teachers and speech-language pathologists on the administration of the language intervention program; and publications and presentations on the potential efficacy of this program to improve the outcomes for children with language impairments and children at risk for learning disabilities from Native American and Hispanic cultures.

Key Outcomes: The main features of the intervention and findings of the project's pilot study are as follows:

  • Hispanic American children improved in their understanding and production of new words from the storybooks (Loeb & Daniels, 2009).
  • Native American children improved in their ability to combine sounds together to read words, read nonwords, and understand and produce new words from the storybooks (Loeb et al., 2011)
  • Native American children's narratives may be influenced by cultural beliefs and values and this may lead to differences between Native American and mainstream storytelling (McConnell & Loeb, 2021).

This study provides preliminary evidence that kindergarten children from diverse backgrounds display vocabulary gains and literacy gains when provided with intensive, summer language enrichment using culturally authentic storybooks.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The intervention took place in two elementary schools in rural and suburban Kansas.

Population: A total of 60 students in first, second, and third grade participated (40 Hispanic and 20 Native American). All students were from low socioeconomic homes. Students had language impairments or were at risk for learning disabilities, but did not have an intellectual disability.

Intervention: The literacy-based language intervention was 4 weeks in duration, for 2.5 hours day, 5 days per week. The intervention was developed using culturally authentic storybooks. Four areas for improvement were targeted: vocabulary, narration, phonological awareness, and reading skills. Stories were read to the children each day and a series of experiential activities associated with the vocabulary words from each book were presented. Language facilitation techniques such as expansions and modeling were used to generalize language skills. Phonological awareness activities that used the words and concepts from each book were used to strengthen the children's literacy skills. Narrative understanding and production were targeted using story retelling based on the storybooks and the children generated their own stories.

Research Design and Methods: For the pilot study, children were randomly assigned to either an immediate treatment group or a delayed treatment group. All treatment took place during the summer. The outcome measures were administered to all participants before treatment and after treatment (4 weeks), as well as 3 months after treatment ended.

Control Condition: Students in the delayed treatment group served as a control group for the immediate treatment group.

Key Measures: Standardized and norm-referenced tests of vocabulary (Comprehensive Test of Receptive and Expressive Vocabulary Test 2), narration (Test of Narrative Language), phonological awareness (Phonological Awareness Test), and reading skills (Test of Word Reading Efficiency) were administered pre and post intervention.

Data Analytic Strategy: Analysis of variance was used to determine differences between the immediate treatment group and delayed treatment group. An additional multivariate analysis was conducted to provide more information about the relationship between the four target areas (vocabulary, narration, phonological awareness, and reading skills) and the intervention.

Publications and Products

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter:

Loeb, D. F., and Redbird, K. (2008). Fostering the literacy of Indigenous elementary school-age children. Perspectives on Communication Disorders and Sciences in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Populations, 15: 5–11. doi:10.1044/cds15.1.5

Loeb, D. F., and Daniels, D. B. (2009). Administration of a literacy-based curriculum by teacher and SLP teams. Perspectives on School-Based Issues, 10: 7377. doi:10.1044/sbi10.3.73

Loeb, D. F, Redbird, K., and McConnell, G. E. (2011). A language and literacy program for indigenous kindergartners: Preliminary findings. Perspectives on Communication Disorders and Sciences in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Populations, 18: 4247. doi:10.1044/cds18.2.42

McConnell, G., & Loeb, D. F. (2021). Analysis of narratives produced by American Indian School Children. Topics in Language Disorders, 41(2): 153–168. doi: 10.1097/TLD.0000000000000252


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