Dr. Elizabeth Kelley, assistant professor in the Department of Communication Science and Disorders at the MU School of Health Professions, received a 2016 New Century Scholars Research Grant from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation for her work titled: Explicit Word Learning of Preschool Children with Specific Language Impairment. The grant is accompanied by funding in the amount of $25,000.

Dr. Kelley’s new project will examine word learning of preschool children with and without specific language impairment (SLI) using an innovative word learning measure. Many children with SLI have difficulty learning new words which can result in limited vocabulary. Children with limited vocabulary are at high risk of later reading difficulties, making it important to identify children who are poor word leaners in order to focus intervention efforts.

The new word learning measure has been carefully designed to be sensitive to differences in good and poor word learners and to be feasible for use in clinical settings by speech-language pathologists. Brief teaching trials will provide opportunities for children to learn words in an instructional context. Learning of the instructional targets (verbs and adjectives) will be measured to provide information about children’s word learning abilities. Findings of the project will add to the understanding of word learning difficulties in children with SLI.

The ASHFoundation is a charitable organization that promotes a better quality of life for children and adults with communication disorders. The ASHFoundation supports innovators and sparks innovation in the communication sciences by advancing knowledge about the causes and treatment of hearing, speech, language, and swallowing disorders. The ASHFoundation raises funds from individuals, corporations, and organizations to support research, graduate education, and special projects that foster discovery and innovation in the discipline of communication sciences.

Learn more about the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation here.