Exemplar Variability Facilitates Retention of Word Learning by Children With Specific Language Impairment Purpose Variability in the input plays an important role in language learning. The current study examined the role of object variability for new word learning by preschoolers with specific language impairment (SLI). Method Eighteen 4- and 5-year-old children with SLI were taught 8 new words in 3 short ... Research Article
Newly Published
Research Article  |   November 13, 2017
Exemplar Variability Facilitates Retention of Word Learning by Children With Specific Language Impairment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Jessica M. Aguilar
    The University of Arizona, Tucson
  • Elena Plante
    The University of Arizona, Tucson
  • Michelle Sandoval
    The University of Arizona, Tucson
  • 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 Elena Plante: eplante@u.arizona.edu
  • Editor-in-Chief: Shelley Gray
    Editor-in-Chief: Shelley Gray×
  • Editor: Patricia Brooks
    Editor: Patricia Brooks×
Article Information
Development / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Newly Published / Research Article
Research Article   |   November 13, 2017
Exemplar Variability Facilitates Retention of Word Learning by Children With Specific Language Impairment
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, Newly Published. doi:10.1044/2017_LSHSS-17-0031
History: Received March 21, 2017 , Revised June 25, 2017 , Accepted August 25, 2017
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, Newly Published. doi:10.1044/2017_LSHSS-17-0031
History: Received March 21, 2017; Revised June 25, 2017; Accepted August 25, 2017

Purpose Variability in the input plays an important role in language learning. The current study examined the role of object variability for new word learning by preschoolers with specific language impairment (SLI).

Method Eighteen 4- and 5-year-old children with SLI were taught 8 new words in 3 short activities over the course of 3 sessions. Half of the children saw 3 identical objects corresponding to each new word during training (No Variability group); the other half of the children saw 3 different objects corresponding to each new word during training (High Variability group). Children completed vocabulary learning tests for objects seen during training and for new within-category objects that were never seen during training as a test of category generalization. Learning was assessed the day after each training activity, and retention was assessed 3 weeks after the last training session.

Results There were no group differences on trained or generalization items immediately following training sessions. However, children in the High Variability group demonstrated significantly better retention 3 weeks after experimental training.

Conclusion These findings demonstrate that object variability facilitates retention of new word learning by children with SLI.

Supplemental Material https://doi.org/10.23641/asha.5583979

Acknowledgment
This work was funded by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant 1R21DC014203 awarded to the University of Arizona (Elena Plante, principle investigator). The work was completed in partial fulfillment of the doctoral degree for the first author and was previously presented in 2016 at the Symposium for Research in Child Language Disorders.
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