Research Round Up – June 2018
Oxford University Press Why Closing the Word Gap Matters starts off with a survey carried out on over 1,300 teachers. Over half of those surveyed reported that at least 40% of their pupils lacked the vocabulary to access their learning. 69% of primary school teachers and over 60% of secondary schoolteachers believed the word gap to be increasing. Although this does not tell us anything new, it has put the issue in the spotlight once more and added evidence. The report includes short articles from a range of eminent academics, school leaders and thought leaders, including Jean Gross, chair of the Bercow: Ten Years On review who explores how children learn vocabulary.
EEF metacognition and self regulation guidance report. The Education Endowment Foundation has long had metacognition and self-regulation as one of its themes, and has funded several evaluations showing consistently high levels of impact, with pupils making an average of seven months’ additional progress. This ‘guidance report’ is an accessible overview of existing research about self regulated learning and metacognition with clear, actionable guidance. It pulls out seven recommendations for teachers, illustrated here in a poster including the importance of using ‘talk aloud’ in the classrooms, modelling your own thinking and explicitly teaching self reflection. Given that children and young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) can need support or explicit teaching to self reflect as well as to identify and use the strategies that help them, this is interesting and highly relevant.
This fascinating article by Alex Beard talks about How babies learn and why robots can’t compete stressing the importance and uniqueness of human interaction. He writes: “Shared attention is the starting point of conscious human learning. It is why infants don’t learn to talk from video, audio or overhearing parental conversations. We haven’t evolved to [do this]. That’s why it matters that we talk to our children. It’s also why we can’t learn from robots – yet.”
Babies prefer the sounds other babies make. This study looking at babies reactions to the sounds they hear acknowledges this importance of ‘the exaggerated intonation and high pitch’ that adults use when talking with babies. However, it also found that babies showed a preference for infant vocalisations over and above adult interaction. It suggests that this may actually encourage infant babbling and so might have important implications for very early language learning
Evidence based pathways to intervention for children with language disorders by Ebbels et al looks at the evidence for the three tier model often used in to support children and young people with SLCN. The article summarises the evidence for speech and language therapists delivering individualised intervention and strongly recommends approaches are based on evidence. The authors suggest an adapted model with 4 tiers, and describe a process for decision-making. They also advocate for more (and more) rigorous evaluation of different interventions, particularly at tier 1 and 2.