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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

Purpose: The purpose of this study is 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. In a recent 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.

Project Activities: The researchers will develop culturally-based language and vocabulary interventions for children from Native American and Latino cultures. In Year 01, the existing intervention program, which was found to be efficacious in a recent clinical trial, will be modified to be more culturally relevant by using story books that focus on the values and beliefs associated with Native American and Hispanic American cultures. In Year 02, the researchers will assess the potential efficacy of the modified language intervention in a preliminary study with 20 Native American school age children with language impairments or who are at risk for learning disability and 40 Hispanic American school age children with language impairments or who are at risk for learning disability. Gains of an immediate intervention group will be compared to a delayed intervention group to determine if the intervention improved oral and written language skills and vocabulary skills. At the end of Year 02, the preliminary data will be analyzed to determine the potential of the modified language intervention for improving the outcomes for children with language impairments and children at-risk for learning disabilities from Native American and Hispanic cultures.

Products: The expected outcomes from this study include:

  1. A modified, culturally relevant, language and vocabulary intervention,
  2. A related training program for teachers and speech-language pathologists on the administration of the language intervention program, and
  3. Published reports 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

Setting: The intervention will take place in two schools in Kansas.

Population: A total of 60 students in first, second, and third grade will participate (40 Hispanic and 20 Native American). All students are from low socioeconomic families. Students will have language impairments or be at-risk for learning disabilities, however, they will not be in the mentally retarded range with respect to measures of intellectual functioning.

Intervention: The literacy-based intervention is 4 weeks in duration, for 2 hours and 30 minutes a day, 5 days per week, for a total of 20 sessions. The language intervention will be developed using story books and based upon the following principles: (1) Intervention should provide the child with means of communicating in interactive settings and for functional purposes; (2) Intervention should benefit reading, writing, speaking, and comprehension processes because oral and written language use common elements; (3) Intervention should be meaningful and naturally constructed because children appear to learn language more efficiently in meaningful contexts; (4) Intervention should target a full range of language structures as general input, but a subset of language targets should receive centralized intensive input; (5) Intervention should be consist of speech language pathologists and teachers responding to children's utterances with growth-relevant recasts (expansions, expatiations, vertical structures, reorderings), prompts, cues, or clarification/extension questions; (6) Intervention should include speech language pathologists and teachers who use a slowed rate of speech with exaggerated intonation contours that stress critical concepts to make maximal use of attention and memory mechanisms; (7) Intervention should occur in the context of the child's culture; and (8) Intervention should be provided in a way that is supportive of the child's learning style.

Research Design and Methods: Children will be randomly assigned to either an immediate treatment group or a delayed treatment group. Specifically, for the Native American children, 10 will be randomly assigned to an immediate treatment group and 10 to a delayed treatment group. For the Hispanic children, 20 will be randomly assigned to an immediate treatment group and 20 to a delayed treatment group. All treatment will take place during the summer. The outcome measures will be administered to all participants before treatment and after treatment (6 weeks), and 6 months after treatment ends. The delayed treatment group will receive an additional pre-test at the same time as the immediate treatment group.

Control Condition: Students in the delayed treatment group will serve 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) will be administered pre and post intervention.

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


Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

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: 42–47. doi:10.1044/cds18.2.42

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: 73–77. doi:10.1044/sbi10.3.73