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And by "visitor", I'm hoping you're either a Speech–Language Pathologist, SLP student, or SLP Scientist... otherwise, this content is going to confuse the heck out of you!

What is this membership all about?

Our members get access to the Evidence You Can Use reviews. The reviews are divided into two sections:

  • Early Intervention (birth–3)

  • Preschool & School-Age (ages 3–21)

As a member you may belong to one, the other, or both.

In order to implement evidence-based practice, you must know what the research shows. And that's where we come in! Our reviews inform you about the latest, most clinically-relevant research, and how it can be applied directly to practice.

Basically, we work hard each month to help keep you up-to-date for evidence-based practice. For more info on how we write the reviews, see FAQs.

What's do the reviews look like?

First, you can read, print, or listen to our content, each month when it's published:

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You can also browse by topic:

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Or search for a specific topic:

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And once you find what you're looking for the reviews look like this (next posts):

WH-questions and intellectual disabilities: What? Why?!

Who has students working on WH-question goals? How many of them have intellectual disabilities? Why isn’t there any research on teaching that skill with that population? When should I stop with the WH-questions? Oh—right now? Gotcha.

You’ll all agree, answering questions is fundamental. And while we know a lot about how this skill develops in typical children and those with language impairments, kids with intellectual disabilities have been left out of the research fun (a common theme this month). In this study, Sanders & Erickson found that school-age (3rd–12th grade) children with intellectual impairments were better with concrete questions vs. abstract ones (probably no surprise there). Specific questions words could be ranked in difficulty, as shown:

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This is where a badly written goal could trip you up. If you’re just looking at “ability to answer WH questions” in general, your data could vary wildly depending on what specific question words were targeted on any given day.

Now this part might surprise you: overall, picture supports did NOT significantly improve the students’ ability to answer correctly. Visuals tend to be one of our go-to scaffolding techniques, especially for this population, but they may need explicit instruction in how to use the visuals to form a response. Meanwhile, other factors, like the complexity of the question and prior knowledge of the topic should be considered to increase the chances of success.

Sanders, E. J., & Erickson, K. A. (2018). Wh - Question answering in children with intellectual disability. Journal of Communication Disorders, 76, 79–90. doi: 10.1016/j.jcomdis.2018.09.003.

Does the order of your therapy activities matter?

You see a kindergartener with developmental language disorder (DLD) for language therapy. You pick some toys, a game, or a book that will elicit lots of examples of the grammar targets you’re working on. While you play, you give her plenty of models, and use recasts to help her correct her own productions. Sounds pretty typical, yes?

This article has a tip to make that intervention even better: if you’re doing auditory bombardment as part of language therapy, do it at the end of your sessions.

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So often we read research studies and think, “That sounds great, but how would I EVER implement it in my real practice?” Here, we have a small study examining a specific, practical question on how to make the therapy we’re doing more effective. YAY. More of this, please!

In the study, a group of 4–6-year-olds with DLD got a half hour of enhanced* conversational recast treatment for targeted morphemes, of which the first or last 2–4 minutes were devoted to an auditory bombardment activity—something like having the child turn over picture cards while the clinician said phrases with the target structure. Overall, the therapy was effective, and the children improved in their use of the focus morpheme compared to controls. But—the researchers found that more children benefited from the therapywhen auditory bombardment came last. Why? The authors suggest that it helped “consolidate the child’s internal representation” of the morpheme. Doing the bombardment first didn’t seem to offer any advantage over not doing it at all, based on a comparison with equivalent treatment groups from the authors’ previous work.

*Recasting, where the clinician repeats the child’s utterance, correcting any errors of grammar, is an evidence-based language intervention strategy. The “enhanced” part means that clinicians got the children’s attention before doing the recast, and also that they made sure to use different verbs each time. We know children learn better from a wider variety of examples. Check out the paper for more details on how the actual therapy worked!

Plante, E., Tucci, A., Nicholas, K., Arizmendi, G. D., & Vance, R. (2018). Effective Use of Auditory Bombardment as a Therapy Adjunct for Children With Developmental Language Disorders. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 49(2), 320–333. doi:10.1044/2017_LSHSS-17-0077.

Print-focused read-alouds for preschool literacy

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In the Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) classroom, there are many children with language disorders (primary or secondary diagnosis), and these children are known to be at-risk for reading disability. This is a study the long-term impact of classroom print-focused read-alouds on the early literacy skills of these children.
 
This study is a follow-up to a previous study demonstrating an effective early literacy intervention. The 172 children with language disorders available for follow-up were given tests of print knowledge one year post-intervention. The results indicated long-term print knowledge gains. Interestingly, the greatest benefit was for children with the lowest language skills and also low nonverbal cognition. The authors predict this may be because these children were more likely to be in classrooms with weak literacy practices, and may also have fewer reading experiences at home.
 
So—how does the intervention work? The intervention lasts 30 weeks, during which one book per week is read four times per week to an ECSE class. The classroom teacher delivers the intervention, which is basically just a modification to a typical classroom read-aloud. There are 30 books on the reading list, all very commonly-found in preschool classrooms. The teacher follows a script for how to modify the reading to become print-focused. The research team found great fidelity results—teachers can, and will, do this.
 
Now, here’s the best part—their treatment manual and all the materials are freely available online!!! So you don’t have to guess how the print-focused read-alouds went down. You have a script for exactly what to say/do for each bookHere’s the lab website, where you can download everything: . Note that even though their treatment manual is available for free online, there’s also a “pretty” version here.

Justice, L.M., Logan, J., & Kaderavek, J.N. (2017). Longitudinal Impacts of Print-Focused Read-Alouds for Children With Language Impairment. American Journal of Speech–Language Pathology. Advance online publication.. doi:10.1044/2016_AJSLP-15-0200.

Dialect awareness for school-age children

Children who enter school speaking a non-mainstream dialect must quickly learn to dialect shift (a.k.a “code-switch”). Similar to bilingual children, they have two sets of syntactic, semantic, morphologic, and phonological rules, to be applied in different settings and with different communicative partners.

Mainstream American English (MAE) is used in American schools, in the workplace, and in classroom literature. Most children who enter Kindergarten speaking a non-mainstream American English (NMAE) dialect, such as African American English (AAE), “…change their dialect use spontaneously and without explicit instruction,” with the 1st grade being critical as a time of the most rapid growth in dialect shifting. Importantly, children who don’t learn how to dialect shift (e.g. continue to use NMAE in their writing, when MAE is the expectation) struggle; they “…tend to demonstrate weaker literacy achievement and less growth in reading skills during the school year,” and “…research findings over the last 15 years suggest a strong, predictive relationship between young children’s spoken NMAE use and various language and literacy skills, including vocabulary, word reading, spelling, phonological awareness, reading comprehension, and composition” (see article for thorough literature review).

Who are these children who aren’t dialect shifting spontaneously? Data point toward language skill—“…oral language skills, such as vocabulary and morphosyntax, appear to be associated with… dialect shifting ability.”

In this study, the researchers aim to reduce the achievement gap observed in children who don’t spontaneously shift dialects by providing a Dialect Awareness program (DAWS). This program is built upon decades of evidence, thoroughly reviewed in the paper. This paper actually covers two studies—Part 1 with 116 children, and Part 2 with 374 children. For our purposes, we’ll focus only on Part 2, because it was built upon findings from Part 1. Participants were 2nd­–4th grade students (45% African American, 33% White, 4% Hispanic, 4% Asian, 7% multiracial) from four different schools in the southeastern U.S. Children were eligible to participate in DAWS if NMAE features were present in their writing.

The DAWS program was provided to half the students in 15 minute sessions, 4 days per week, for 8 weeks. The other half of the students served as controls. DAWS targeted the following forms: copula/auxiliaries, plurals, past tense, subject–verb agreement, possessives, and preterite had.

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First, it’s imperative to note that, “… the instructional program was designed to be respectful of both dialects…” Instruction not only highlighted differences between MAE and NMAE grammar and vocabulary, but taught that it was good and normal to use both dialects, and that there are contexts for using each dialect. Instructors used analogies to things like clothing—just like outfits differ per situation, so does dialect. Language activities within the program included listening tasks, sentence cloze tasks, editing tasks, sentence sorts, and plenty of games with vocabulary and grammar tasks built in. There was a lot of writing, as well, which was taught as a primary context for MAE use. Instructors provided both reminders and corrective feedback, such as: “Remember that we are using school language so we have to include –s/-es for plurals and –d/-ed for past tense.” To demonstrate to students how to use both dialects in their writing, “…students learned to put quotes around sentences where characters in their narratives were using home English…”

Overall, DAWS was found to be very effective, with post-program gains in language, reading, and writing skills. Also, though effective for the group as a whole, it was found to elicit the greatest gains for children who entered the program with the heaviest NMAE use, and in children who started with somewhat weaker language scores.

Johnson, L., Terry, N.P., Connor, C.M., Thomas-Tate, S. (2017). The effects of dialect awareness instruction on nonmainstream American English speakers. Reading and Writing. Advance online publication. doi:10.1007/s11145-017-9764-y

Like what you see so far?

That was four reviews. As a member, you get between 5 and 10 reviews per issue (or month). 

Basically, with access to our Evidence You Can Use reviews, you can stay up-to-date with research relevant to your practice in under 15 minutes per month!

Also, unlike other research resources, we work for cliniciansOur team of PhDs and SLPs are committed to translating research in a way that’s easy-to-read, efficient, and usable. We're not here to give you "fun facts". We're here to make your clinical practice better. So you aren't just hoping you’re implementing evidence-based practice, but can feel confident knowing it!