Objectively Measuring Language Exposure

Project Title: Objectively Measuring Language Exposure

Long Title (if desired): LENA Recording Package for Clinical and Research Language Measurements

Project Lead's Name: Arnold Olszewski

Project Lead's Email: olszewak@MiamiOH.edu

Project Lead's Phone: 513-529-2549

Project Lead's Division: CAS

Primary Department: SPA

Other Team Members and their emails: Cheryl Stewart, stewarcm@MiamiOH.edu; Gerard Poll, pollgh@MiamiOH.edu; Sarah Heimkreiter, heimkrsm@MiamiOH.edu

List Departments Benefiting or Affected by this proposal: SPA Department

Estimated Number of Under-Graduate students affected per year (should be number who will actually use solution, not just who is it available to): 50

Estimated Number of Graduate students affected per year (should be number who will actually use solution, not just who is it available to): 34

Describe the problem you are attempting solve and your approach for solving that problem: Language sampling is a powerful assessment tool to monitor language development in young children. Language samples can be used to measure growth among all language domains (form, content,  and use) with objective measures and established standards.

Furthermore, narrative language samples are a strong predictor of later literacy achievement. Language sample analysis is a core component and primary learning objective of the SPA426 undergraduate course. Graduate student clinicians also collect language samples as part of their clinical training in SPA. Although it is considered one of the gold-standard assessment measures, many students and young clinicians report barriers to collecting and analyzing language samples on a regular basis. First, these samples are generally ske-wed based on the artificial environment of a clinic room. Second, transcription and analysis of the samples can take upwards of 1-2 hours for even shorter (e.g., 15 minute) samples, thus limiting its clinical feasibility for students and clinicians with heavy caseloads. Third, training on manual transcription and analysis techniques is demanding and some constructs of manual analysis are rather subjective.

LENA is computerized program that records and analyzes language samples from young children. The package includes a small audio recorder that can be attached to clothing for young children ages 0-4. This device records up to 16 hours of audio for a full-day sample.

This recording allows language sampling from a natural environment, usually the child's home or childcare center. The samples are then uploaded to a computer and analyzed using the accompanying software. This software provides objective measures of a variety of language constructs including sentence complexity and linguistic diversity. It also provides information on language exposure, allowing clinicians to make judgments about the learning environment in the home or classroom for young children. This information can be used by graduate clinicians to coach parents on ways to model and elicit language growth in their children with speech-language disorders.

Previous research has found strong correlation between LENA analysis and standardized measures of language growth in young children, thus establishing its validity as a clinical measure. For undergraduate students and graduate clinicians, experience with this technology will provide them with a powerful, cutting edge tool to add to their repertoire of clinical assessments.

How would you describe the innovation and/or the significance of your project: This project is innovative in that the SPA department  does not currently have an objective, automated means of collecting language samples. Undergraduate students enrolled In  SPA426  will benefit from LENA because it will allow them to train on an increasingly popular method of child language assessment that is used both clinically and for research across the country. Graduate students serving clients in the Miami University Speech and Hearing Clinic will also be able to access LENA to use it for assessment and progress monitoring of clients with whom they provide services. This will allow students to conduct language samples more efficiently and compare the results to other indicators of language development, thus increasing their critical thinking abilities. LENA analyses allow student clinicians to make more informed decisions for their clients and give them firsthand experience using this evidence-based assessment method. This aligns with both the goals of the graduate learning outcomes for the Masters in speech-language pathology set forth by the SPA department and the certification  standards  established  by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

How will you assess the success of the project: The success of the project for undergraduates will be assessed in two ways. First, for the SPA426 course, students must complete an assessment protocol where they collect a language sample from a child and generate a clinical report based on their analysis of the sample. Student performance on this report will be scored to determine the detail and rigor of the evidence presented. Reports across semesters will be compared to determine whether the detail and rigor increased with implementation of the LENA program.

Students will also report their opinions of using the LENA device for language analysis to determine its feasibility and acceptability among undergraduate students. Dr. Olszewski, Dr. Poll, and Ms. Heimkreiter teach the SPA426 course and will collect this data. The second measure will record the number of language samples collected by graduate clinicians in the Miami University Speech and Hearing Clinic over the course of the year. We will determine whether the frequency of language sample analysis increases with the ease of implementation with LENA. Student clinicians will complete a survey at the end of the year reporting their likelihood of implementing traditional manual language sample analysis and LENA automated language sample analysis in clinical practice post-graduation. Ms. Stewart and Ms. Heimkreiter will collect this data from graduate students.

Total Amount Requested: $9,796

Budget Details:

  • LENA Pro Technology (Qty. 1) = $8,400
  • Recording Kits (Qty. 4 x $299ea.) = $1,196
  • Clothing (Qty. 8 x $25ea.) = $200
  • Total = $9,796

Is this a multi-year request: No

Please address how, if at all, this project aligns with University, Divisional, Departmental or Center strategic goals: One of the SPA department's undergraduate student learning objectives is to "communicate effectively through the writing of SOAP notes, clinical reports, language sample analysis, and phonetic transcription." Furthermore, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's 2020 Certification Standard IV-D includes 11••• demonstrated current knowledge of the principles and methods of prevention, assessment, and intervention for persons with communication and swallowing disorders, including consideration of anatomical/physiological, psychological, developmental, and llngulstic and cultural correlates." The LENA system provides a novel, objective method for language sample analysis and assessment, thus preparing both undergraduate and graduate students for successful clinical careers.