Priority Grants Research Fund

Abstracts of Priority Research Project Funded for FY 2010

Raylene Paludneviciene, Paul Dudis, Peter Hauser
Psychology, Linguistics, RIT
Developing a theoretical framework for sign language assessment tests
Deborah Chen-Pichler
Linguistics
Effects of Bilingualism on Word Order and Information packaging in ASL
Qi Wang, Caroline Solomon
Business, Biology
Exploring Blended Instructional Pedagogy to Enhance Student Learning and Scientific Reasoning Skills in Biology
Gaurav Mathur
Linguistics
Perception of Phonological Structure in ASL
Pilar Piñar
Linguistics
Parsing sentences in two languages

NEW STUDIES

Developing a theoretical framework for sign language assessment tests
Raylene Paludneviciene, Paul Dudis, Peter Hauser

Psychology; Linguistics; RIT

Language assessment is a necessary component of any program concerned with language development and proficiency. Assessment tools are used in these programs for a variety of purposes—including evaluation for language class placement—and are part of linguistic diagnostics packages as well. Unfortunately, resources for the assessment of ASL proficiency are relatively scarce, putting ASL programs for deaf children at a disadvantage. Currently the field of language testing does not have a clear understanding of how ASL-based tests might be similar to and/or different from English-based tests. Our main goal is thus to consider and develop a theoretical framework with which to produce ASL proficiency tests. The studies that comprise our project would make significant contributions towards establishing working guidelines for test developers aiming to measure ASL skills in different populations.


Exploring Blended Instructional Pedagogy to Enhance Student Learning and Scientific Reasoning Skills in Biology
Qi Wang, Caroline Solomon

Business; Biology

Instruction of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) content has always been challenging for Gallaudet University's (GU) undergraduate programs which serve deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) students who primarily depend upon visual sensory inputs to process information. Several major factors related to STEM subject matters and the university's unique instructional environment have adversely affected student learning delivered through traditional one-pace-fits-all classroom lectures. These factors include DHH students' general lack of prior scientific content knowledge, practice-based skill acquisition in STEM fields that requires learning labs to replicate real-world environment, lack of a universal signing standard, extensive use of fingerspelling in signed lectures, and learners with significantly diverged capability due to GU's liberal undergraduate admission policy. This three-semester multiple case study, proposed to address GU's Research Priority 4—Teaching, Learning and the Communication Environment, is to explore an e-Learning and classroom instruction blended learning pedagogy with DHH biology majors and to examine its associated factors that may influence student comprehension and scientific reasoning skills in Biology, one of the most popular STEM disciplines on campus. The investigation will replicate and expand the instructional design and research framework derived from a multiple-case study which explored blended learning design and individualized instructional delivery with students in Computer Information Systems classes (Wang, 2006). The preliminary findings of the limited experiment (in length and scope) were positive. However, additional studies with a more systematic approach and different target learners in other STEM disciplines are called for to gain further insights on the technology-supported blended learning phenomenon, to test the premise that this alternative learning paradigm can improve DHH student learning of STEM subjects, and to accumulate instructional design and delivery experiences that can be applied to other STEM disciplines.


CONTINUED GRANTS

Effects of Bilingualism on Word Order and Information packaging in ASL
Deborah Chen-Pichler

Linguistics

This project aims to study the development of information packaging by ASL monolingual and ASL/English bilingual children. Information packaging refers to the ways in which speakers organize old and new information during discourse with an interlocutor. Recent reports in the acquisition literature have demonstrated that Deaf children as young as 1;6-2;0 appear to make use of topic and focus structures. However, the extent to which these structures adhere to target-like discourse/pragmatic requirements is not clear. It is also not clear from these reports whether children accurately produce the nonmanual (prosodic) features or noncanonical word order that accompany such information structures in adult ASL. This study will collect both longitudinal and experimental data with the goal of uncovering the developmental patterns for topic and focus constructions, as well as their effects on word order and nonmanual prosody. In addition, inclusion of both mono- and bilingual signers will allow investigation of possible cross-modality transfer effects between English and ASL. Bilingualism across two modalities presents opportunities for a wider variety of potential transfer effects than traditional monomodal bilingualism on which current models of transfer are based, and can thus serve as a crucial test case for refining this aspect of linguistic theory.


Perception of Phonological Structure in ASL
Gaurav Mathur

Linguistics

The study investigates how language experience and parameters of phonological structure like handshape, location, and movement affect perception in American Sign Language (ASL). To examine perception, the study uses two experimental techniques in psycholinguistics: primed lexical decision and primed phonological matching. In the first technique, participants judge whether the second sign of a pair is real or nonce. The question is whether the first sign facilitates performance if the two signs share a parameter in common. In the second, novel technique, participants judge whether two signs produced by different signers are the same. The question here is whether participants can detect when the two signs differ slightly in one of the parameters. To evaluate the effects of language experience, performance on these tasks are compared across both Deaf and hearing individuals in three groups: those exposed to ASL from birth; those exposed to ASL after five years of age; and those with no prior

ASL exposure. The significance of the study lies in addressing several priority areas: it identifies aspects of linguistic structure prominent in perception (Priority 8) and determines the degrees of signed language fluency with respect to perception, which can be applied toward language assessment


Parsing sentences in two languages
Pilar Piñar

Linguistics

The main goal of this study is to examine what kind of information, syntactic and semantic, second language learners utilize when they read in their second language. Specifically, we will examine the processing of English relative clauses among different groups of second language learners of English, namely, deaf ASL-English bilinguals, Russian-English bilinguals, and Spanish-English bilinguals. We will also investigate how the participants' English proficiency levels as well as their individual cognitive resources may play a role in how closely second language sentence processing might approximate sentence processing in the L1.

[Last modified: 2011.12.05 16:50:38. by Kevin Cole]

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