April 21, 2012

Student graduation

Rebekah Lockart graduated on 20th April with a Master of Speech and Language Pathology from the Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Linguistics, Macquarie University in Sydney. Congratulations Rebekah! Her thesis was titled: “Factors that enhance Australian speech-language pathologists’ assessment of the speech of Cantonese-speaking children” and it was a privilege to supervise her work (we had an official arrangement between the two universities). 

During June Rebekah will be presenting aspects of her thesis at the Speech Pathology Australia National Conference in Hobart, Australia and I will be presenting a different paper based on this work at the International Clinical Phonetics and Linguistics Conference in Cork, Ireland. We have also just received positive reviews from an international journal about a paper based on her thesis – so soon the world will also know about the important work that Rebekah has undertaken.
Rebekah and David Lockart

April 11, 2012

Supervision of distance and part-time higher degree research students

Today I coordinated a supervisory workshop for the CSU Research Office titled "Supervision of distance, remote and part-time higher degree research students" The workshop was attended by academics from four universities (Australian National University, University of Canberra, Charles Sturt University, and University of New South Wales).
The other presenters were
Rob Doubleday, Manager, Research Policy and Coordinator | CSU Research Office
Dr Rod Pope, Head, Research Professional Development Programs | CSU Research Office
Kate Crowe, PhD student, Faculty of Education, CSU.

As part of my presentation I discussed practices of effective supervisors (based on James and Baldwin, 1999) that required special consideration when working with part-time distance students (see asterisked points):
1.Ensure partnership is right for project
2.*Get to know students and carefully assess their needs
3.*Establish reasonable, agreed expectations
4.Work with students to establish a strong conceptual structure and research plan
5. Encourage students to write early and often
6. *Initiate regular contact and provide high quality feedback
7. *Get students into the life of the department
8. Inspire and motivate
9. *Help if academic and personal crises crop up
10. Take an active interest in students’ future careers
11. Carefully monitor the final production and presentation of the research"

James, R., & Baldwin, G. (1999). Eleven practices of effective postgraduate supervisors. Parkville VIC: University of Melbourne.

April 9, 2012

Children's books in languages other than English

As part of my Future Fellowship research I have collected many children's books written in languages other than English. I have been considering the vocabulary, illustrations, and conventions used by authors, illustrators and publishers in different cultures. This weekend I found a wonderful bookshop in Sydney that specializes in Japanese and Chinese books (including extensive children's book sections). It is called Kinokuniya, and think I will be visiting it again.

Japanese books are traditionally opened from right to left and written from top to bottom. However, many contemporary Japanese children's books are opened from left to right, and are written horizontally to mirror English conventions.

April 7, 2012

Dr Yvonne Wren's visit

Over Easter Dr Yvonne Wren and her family visited Bathurst. I have worked with Yvonne in Bristol on a number of occasions, and we have worked in many other cities in the world on days before or after conferences. So, it was wonderful to have her visit my home this time. Yvonne and I have been working on a paper based on analysis of the ALSPAC longitudinal data set. We also discussed her development, computerisation and testing of Phoneme Factory Phonology Screener.
Sharynne and Yvonne exploring Bathurst
A kangaroo near the entrance of Charles Sturt University

April 6, 2012

Just published: Intelligibility in Context Scale

The following manuscript has just been published  
 McLeod, S., Harrison, L. J. & McCormack, J.  (2012). Intelligibility in Context Scale: Validity and reliability of a subjective rating measure. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 55, 648-656.

Purpose: To describe a new measure of functional intelligibility, the Intelligibility in Context Scale (ICS), and evaluates its validity, reliability, and sensitivity using clinical measures of severity of speech sound disorder: percentage of phonemes correct (PPC), percentage of consonants correct (PCC), and percentage of vowels correct (PVC).
Method: Speech skills of 120 preschool children (109 with parent-/teacher-identified concern about how they talked and made speech sounds, and 11 with no identified concern) were assessed via the Diagnostic Evaluation of Articulation and Phonology. Parents completed the 7-item ICS questionnaire which rates the degree to which children’s speech is understood by different communication partners (parents, immediate family, extended family, friends, acquaintances, teachers, and strangers) on a 5-point scale.
Results: Parents’ ratings showed that most children were “always” (5) or “usually” (4) understood by parents, immediate family and teachers, but only “sometimes” (3) by strangers. Factor analysis confirmed the internal consistency of the ICS items; therefore, ratings were averaged to form an overall intelligibility score. The ICS had high internal reliability (α=0.93), sensitivity, and construct validity. Criterion validity was established through significant correlations between the ICS and PPC (r=.54), PCC (r=.54), and PVC (r =.36).
Conclusion: The ICS is a promising new measure of functional intelligibility. These data provide initial support for the ICS as an easily administered, valid and reliable estimate of preschool children’s intelligibility when speaking with people of varying levels of familiarity and authority.