Friday, April 6, 2018

Why do early mathematics skills predict later reading? The role of mathematical language

Reading and math tasks both depend on oral language and code-related skills. Math and literacy share a persistent bidirectional developmental relationship. Considerable evidence has demonstrated that early reading predicts later math, but the opposite relationship has also been reported. In the case of early math predicting later reading skills, the extent to which this relationship can be accounted for simply by the language load of early math tasks or reflects a unique association is unclear. The present study examined whether the relationship between early math and later reading skills is mediated by mathematical language ability.

A total of 136 preschool children completed measures of early numeracy skills and mathematical language, early literacy skills (print knowledge, phonological awareness, definitional vocabulary), and general cognitive ability at the beginning of the school year, and again about 5 months later. The mathematical language measure assessed comparative language (e.g., combine, more) and spatial language (e.g., near, far). In multilevel modelling, the relationship between early numeracy skills and later reading was entirely mediated by mathematical language ability.

Although this study examines predictive relationships over only a 5-month window, it does underscore the language load of early mathematical tasks. The findings highlight the cross curricular impact of language disorders.

Blogger: Lisa Archibald

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Designing Caregiver-Implemented Shared-Reading Interventions to Overcome Implementation Barriers

Evidence suggests that parent-child shared-reading interventions can have a positive impact on print awareness and oral language. Nevertheless, parents often have difficulty completing the interventions as described. Researchers in the field of Implementation Science are interested in identifying barriers that prevent an intervention from being implemented the way it was intended. Justice et al. aimed to identify barriers that parents experience when completing a print-focused reading intervention designed to improve early-literacy skills of children with developmental language disorder.
Parents who were involved in a shared-reading intervention study completed questionnaires and interviews regarding their participation. Four main challenges to completing the intervention as described were identified: time-related pressure, parent reading difficulties or discomfort with reading, and a limited understanding of the intervention benefits.  The authors then identified behaviour-changing techniques to align with each of these barriers. The behaviour-changing techniques included: Reward Technique: providing a reward each time a session is completed, Feedback Technique: providing feedback on the parent’s skills, Model Technique: providing models of a session and Encouragement Technique: providing messages that emphasize the value of the intervention.

Evaluation of the behaviour-changing techniques are currently underway. Preliminary results reveal that even with the techniques, one-third of parents enrolled are struggling with implementing the intervention. Overall, this article demonstrates the variability in how well caregivers can implement interventions and highlights the need to investigate how to make interventions manageable for parents.

Blogger: Meghan is a MClSc/PhD student, supervised by Dr. Lisa Archibald