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Rich vocabulary instruction (McGregor et al., 2021)

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journal contribution
posted on 09.02.2021, 23:58 by Karla K. McGregor, Amanda Owen Van Horne, Maura Curran, Susan Wagner Cook, Renee Cole
Purpose: The aims of the study were to explore responses of children with developmental language disorder (DLD) to rich vocabulary instruction and to identify potential factors that contribute to outcomes.
Method: Children with DLD participated in a language intervention embedded within a science camp. Using parent and clinician reports, standardized tests, probes, notes, and video, we derived descriptions of seven of the campers who received a vocabulary intervention that incorporated principles of rich instruction. We present them here as a case series.
Results: Five cases responded to the intervention with modest gains in Tier 2 science vocabulary and science knowledge. One case demonstrated no response, and another was unable to complete the intervention. The latter two cases presented with triple risks: DLD, executive function deficits, and stressors associated with poverty. In comparison, the best responder also lived in poverty and had DLD, but he had intact executive function, strengths in extant vocabulary, stronger knowledge of science, better engagement in the science and language intervention activities, and was older. Other factors that seemed to contribute to outcomes included the complexity of the word forms and dosage.
Conclusions: Translating research on rich instruction to clinical practice is challenging. This case series motivated hypotheses about the nature of the challenge and what to do about it, the primary one being that the modest success of rich vocabulary instruction for children with DLD is not a limitation of the approach itself but rather a reflection of the difficulty of delivering the intervention while tailoring the targets, approach, and dosage to the needs of individual children with DLD.

Supplemental Material S1. Guidelines provided to student clinicians.

McGregor, K. K., Van Horne, A. O., Curran, M., Cook, S. W., & Cole, R. (2021). The challenge of rich vocabulary instruction for children with developmental language disorder. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools. Advance online publication.


National Science Foundation Grant 1748298