Dr. Jeannene Ward-Lonergan hosted the annual Speech-Language Pathology Graduate Research Presentation on May 7, 2014 to showcase research studies conducted by students in the Master’s of Speech-Language Pathology Program. Students are enrolled in the Research Methods course taught by Dr. Ward-Lonergan and are responsible for conducting a literature review and designing a research study of their choice. At the end of the course the students have the option to carry out the study or take an exam to meet the requirements. This year there were 10 research studies.
Alyssa Novales ’15 and Vanessa Wildie ’15 presented their research study on the “Sentence Structure and Speech Sound Considerations for School-Age Filipino-American Children.” Their pilot study will look at children five to seven years old and evaluate the speech differences between students who are exposed to the Tagalog language at home and those who only speak English. “Documenting speech and language differences will help educate administrators such as teachers and clinicians to make informed decisions when making referrals or diagnosing disorders,” said Wildie. “Since some speech and language differences may be attributed to diverse cultural linguistic backgrounds, children may be misidentified as having a disorder,” added Novales. Both Novales and Wildie were not raised bilingual but picked up some accents from their parents and relatives who primarily spoke their native language during family gatherings. However, the exposure did not affect their speech in school or as adults.
Another important study is the “Effects of cochlear implants on reading levels” presented by Amanda Lines ’15 and Kayla Villalpando ’15. Their study will compare reading levels of children with cochlear implants to children who do not have a hearing impairment. “Many deaf children have a fourth grade reading level. If we can show that cochlear implants can help children excel, it can really impact their education,” said Villalpano. There are strict criteria for the surgery and it can be expensive, especially for families without health insurance. “Cochlear implants can benefit deaf or hard of hearing children but are more appropriate for children who suffer from sensory neurological damage,” said Lines.
When asked what Dr. Ward-Lonergan hopes students take away from her course she said, “I hope they gain a greater understanding of the importance of research, more knowledge about the research process and evidence-based practice, and a sense of excitement about conducting research! There are numerous important questions that need to be addressed in our field of study, and I am very proud that so many of the students are already becoming active research contributors.”
Dr. Ward-Lonergan continues to see an increase in the number of students who have opted to conduct their research studies. Many of the studies are submitted for presentation at the California Speech-Language-Hearing Association (CSHA) and/or the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) professional meetings. This year all 10 research studies have been submitted for the 2015 CSHA Convention in Long Beach.
By Dua Her '09