SECD students prepare to showcase research posters at Capitol, Research Fair


SECD students prepare to showcase research posters at Capitol, Research Fair

11 Apr 2019    By Kelcey Buck

Juniors Rachel Beeney, Sydney Harrington and Yesenia Delgadillo are among the students whose 2018-19 Undergraduate Creative Activities and Research Experience (UCARE) poster was selected for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Undergraduate Research at the Capitol breakfast and poster session April 16 at the Nebraska State Capitol Building.

Beeney, a native of Mitchell, Nebraska, and Harrington, a native of Ashton, Nebraska, are both speech-language pathology majors in the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders. Delgadillo, a native of Dakota City, Nebraska, is majoring in psychology in the College of Arts & Sciences. Professor Chris Marvin served as the group’s faculty sponsor for the UCARE project, titled “Predictors of Language Abilities in Early Head Start Children.”

The group’s study, which included 64 toddler-age children (average age 17 months), focused on the use of language samples to compare the change in children’s language abilities during a six- to seven-month time period for English-speaking and Spanish-speaking children enrolled in Early Head Start centers in Nebraska and South Dakota. The Early Head Start centers employed some bilingual teachers. The research also explored what family choices predicted children’s language abilities.

The researchers found that more sleep per night predicted greater language abilities in children, when controlling for age. While the number of childcare arrangements per week did not appear to influence children’s language abilities, prior research has indicated that the quality of that care could be influential. English-speaking children tripled their productivity in terms of number of words, utterances, different words and mean length of three longest utterances (MLU-3) while Spanish-speaking children showed a flatter but positive change in their language abilities.

The findings from the UCARE project will be useful for future work on a larger study within Getting Ready, a research program led by principal investigator Lisa Knoche, research associate professor at the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools. Getting Ready is a strengths-based partnership approach that encourages parental engagement in all aspects of early childhood development.

The students hope their research can also inform parents and educators on factors such as age, sleep and second language exposure that may influence children’s language abilities, as well as the value of language samples as measures of change over time. The students each had their own personal takeaways as well. 

“This research project has allowed me to understand some of the early factors that have an impact on children’s language development,” Harrington said. “As a future speech-language pathologist, understanding which factors are malleable can allow me to intentionally work with children and their parents to inform them of how some simple decisions made in their households can positively impact their child’s language abilities.”

“I have always wanted to work with children, and this research project helped me think more about in what ways I can do that,” Delgadillo said.

For the three students, participating in UCARE was about more than learning to complete a research project.

“Some of the biggest things I learned from this project had little to do with the actual research and more to do with collaborating with members of a team, being held accountable for duties, and how to think on a bigger scale,” Harrington said. “Working on this project has allowed me to expand my education from simple memorization to actual application of skills and lessons.”

All three students agreed that participating in a UCARE project had been a positive experience and encouraged other undergraduates to do the same.

“It helps you grow as a student, and as a future professional,” Beeney said. “Being exposed to research has sparked my interest and now I would like to be involved in it throughout my career.”

Following the breakfast and poster session at the Capitol, the group’s UCARE poster will remain on display in the Capitol rotunda for two weeks. In addition, Beeney, Harrington and Delgadillo will present their poster as part of the Spring Research Fair April 15 at the Nebraska Union. The undergraduate poster session is 10:30 a.m. to noon, while a graduate poster session is 3:30 to 5 p.m.

The complete list of SECD students presenting posters at the research fair includes:

Undergraduate students (faculty mentors in parentheses)
Haley Gracey, Elizabeth Friend, Clair Trenhaile: “Screening for Communication Risk before 12 Months with the CISS: Preliminary Data Predicting Communication Outcomes” (Cynthia Cress)
Emily Grybas, Linneaa Nguyen, Thy Thy K. Trat Thai: "White Matter Characteristics in Pre-Readers (Yingying Wang)
Sydney Harrington, Rachel Beeney, Yesenia Delgadillo: “Predictors of Language Abilities in Early Head Start Children” (Chris Marvin)
Adriana Miller: “Executive Function and Literacy Skills of Dual Language Learners” (Marc Goodrich)
Melissa Trapp: “Implementation of Equine-Assisted Therapy in Speech-Language Pathology” (Kristy Weissling)

Graduate students (co-authors in parentheses)
Carissa Allen: “The Potential Benefit of Amplification on Cognitive Performance” (Sherri Jones)
Megan Booth: “Results of the LiSN-S in Children with Reading Difficulties” (Sherri Jones, Michael Hebert)
Sallie Croissant: “Replicating the Suppression Head Impulse Paradigm” (Alaina Bassett, Sherri Jones)
Kyle Hotovy: “Changes in Self-Reported Earplug Use in High School Band Students After Education on Noise Induced Hearing Loss” (Kelly Pritchett, Sherri Jones)
Jessica Koraleski: “The Effects of Hemodialysis on Cochlear Sensitivity: A Pilot Study” (Sherri Jones)
Kelly Malcolm: “Prevalence of Vestibular Deficits Associated with Gentamicin Use in Nicaragua” (Stacie Ray, Hannah Ditmars, Sherri Jones)
Madison Mannel: “Comparing Quality of Life in Older Adults Before and After Hearing Aid Fittings” (Sherri Jones)
Susan Pope: “Word Recognition Strategies Improve Reading Skills of Braille Users” (Mackenzie Savaiano)
Bradee Rief: “Prevalence of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss in Post-Secondary Students in Agriculture Majors (Sherri Jones)
Courtney Robertson: “Parent Perspectives of their Deaf Child” (Sherri Jones)
Nicole Swanson: “Effectiveness of Fall Risk Education in Elderly (Sherri Jones)
Rachel Timm: “Comparing the Brain Hemodynamics of Individuals with Severe vs. Mild Tonal Subjective Tinnitus” (Ben Hage, Sherri Jones, Greg Bashford)
Lauren Volzke: “High School Students’ Exposure to Healthcare Fields and Knowledge of Hearing Conservation” (Sherri Jones)
Nikki Wipplinger: “Understanding Salary Discrepancies Between Audiology and Optometry” (Sherri Jones)


Special Education and Communication Disorders