1. Maura Curran
  2. Postdoctoral Researcher/ Research SLP
  4. University of Delaware
  1. Karla McGregor
  2. Senior Scientist
  4. Boys Town National Research Hosp
  1. Amanda Owen Van Horne
  2. https://sites.udel.edu/cscd/about/people-2/amanda-jean-owen-van-horne/
  3. Associate Professor
  5. University of Delaware

Improving STEM Outcomes for Young Children with Language Learning Disabilitie...

NSF Awards: 1661166

2019 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades K-6

We know that the sophisticated language of science can be a barrier to the learning of science, and this is especially true for the 3 million U.S. children with developmental language disorder (DLD). Children with DLD have difficulty in acquiring oral language skills including grammar and vocabulary. Early intervention could be key to preparing future secondary and post-secondary students with DLD for the successful acquisition of STEM knowledge and the pursuit of STEM careers. Our ultimate goal in researching language therapy and science learning is to change these students' learning trajectories before significant gaps in scientific knowledge have developed by integrating supports for science-relevant grammar and vocabulary into an early science curriculum. In this study, we are comparing the effects of different types of language intervention on science learning, so that we can better understand how to support access to science by children with language difficulties.

This 3-year NSF-funded project tests the potential for grammar intervention or vocabulary intervention to lead to stronger science outcomes for Preschool – Kindergarten children with DLD. In this study, all participating children complete small-group inquiry-based science instruction. However, we randomly assign participants to one of three language intervention conditions: science + vocabulary supports, science + grammar supports, or science + pre-literacy/phonological awareness intervention. We are analyzing outcomes on science unit tests and a standardized test of general science knowledge. Comparisons of science learning outcomes between conditions will reveal what type of supports for language skills improve science learning.


The PI for this project is Dr. Karla McGregor from Boys Town National Research Hospital. This study is a collaborative effort between Boys Town, University of Delaware, and University of Iowa. All data collection occurs at University of Delaware.


Learn more at the U.D. TELL Lab website or Dr. McGregor's website!

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