Do the Hard Things First: A Randomized Controlled Trial Testing the Effects of Exemplar Selection on Generalization Following Therapy for Grammatical Morphology Purpose Complexity-based approaches to treatment have been gaining popularity in domains such as phonology and aphasia but have not yet been tested in child morphological acquisition. In this study, we examined whether beginning treatment with easier-to-inflect (easy first) or harder-to-inflect (hard first) verbs led to greater progress in the production ... Research Article
Newly Published
Research Article  |   August 10, 2017
Do the Hard Things First: A Randomized Controlled Trial Testing the Effects of Exemplar Selection on Generalization Following Therapy for Grammatical Morphology
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Amanda Jean Owen Van Horne
    University of Iowa, Iowa City
  • Marc Fey
    University of Kansas, Lawrence
  • Maura Curran
    University of Iowa, Iowa City
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Amanda Jean Owen Van Horne, who is now at the University of Delaware, Newark: ajovh@udel.edu
  • Editor-in-Chief: Sean Redmond
    Editor-in-Chief: Sean Redmond×
  • Editor: Lisa Archibald
    Editor: Lisa Archibald×
Article Information
Research Issues, Methods & Evidence-Based Practice / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Newly Published / Research Article
Research Article   |   August 10, 2017
Do the Hard Things First: A Randomized Controlled Trial Testing the Effects of Exemplar Selection on Generalization Following Therapy for Grammatical Morphology
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, Newly Published. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-L-17-0001
History: Received January 1, 2017 , Revised April 12, 2017 , Accepted May 8, 2017
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, Newly Published. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-L-17-0001
History: Received January 1, 2017; Revised April 12, 2017; Accepted May 8, 2017

Purpose Complexity-based approaches to treatment have been gaining popularity in domains such as phonology and aphasia but have not yet been tested in child morphological acquisition. In this study, we examined whether beginning treatment with easier-to-inflect (easy first) or harder-to-inflect (hard first) verbs led to greater progress in the production of regular past-tense –ed by children with developmental language disorder.

Method Eighteen children with developmental language disorder (ages 4–10) participated in a randomized controlled trial (easy first, N = 10, hard first, N = 8). Verbs were selected on the basis of frequency, phonological complexity, and telicity (i.e., the completedness of the event). Progress was measured by the duration of therapy, number of verb lists trained to criterion, and pre/post gains in accuracy for trained and untrained verbs on structured probes.

Results The hard-first group made greater gains in accuracy on both trained and untrained verbs but did not have fewer therapy visits or train to criterion on more verb lists than the easy-first group. Treatment fidelity, average recasts per session, and verbs learned did not differ across conditions.

Conclusion When targeting grammatical morphemes, it may be most efficient for clinicians to select harder rather than easier exemplars of the target.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant K23-DC 013291 awarded to Amanda Jean Owen Van Horne. Stimuli development and pilot work was made possible through a grant from the ASHFoundation, awarded to Amanda Jean Owen Van Horne. The paper benefited from discussion with Karla McGregor, Prahlad Gupta, and Gary Dell. Lauren Seemann and Diane Buffo played critical roles in the process of subject recruitment and retention and data management. Members of the grammar acquisition lab assisted with intervention provision, data collection, transcription, and analysis. School districts across Iowa supported the recruitment process, but some schools and university clinics went above and beyond. Thus, we also gratefully acknowledge Augustana College (Alli Haskill); St. Ambrose University (Elisa Huff); Grantwood and Mississippi Bend Area Education Agencies; and the Iowa City, Grimes, and West Branch Community school districts for their help with recruiting participants, identifying intervention providers, and providing space to test participants.
Order a Subscription
Pay Per View
Entire Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research content & archive
24-hour access
This Article
24-hour access