Priority Grants Research Fund

Abstracts of Priority Research Project Funded for FY 2017

Dr. Chizuko Tamaki
Dr. Kristen Maul
Hearing, Speech, & Language Sciences
Spatial Navigation Abilities in Deaf Older Adults With and Without Vestibular Impairment
Dr. Cara Gormally
Science, Mathematics, and Technology
Developing Positive Attitudes toward Science in University Lab Classes
Dr. Terra Edwards
The Grammatical Incorporation of Pointing in Pro-Tactile American Sign Language at Gallaudet


Spatial Navigation Abilities in Deaf Older Adults With and Without Vestibular Impairment

Principal Investigators:
Dr. Chizuko Tamaki
Dr. Kristen Maul
Department of Speech, Hearing, & Language Sciences, Gallaudet University

The purposes of this 3-year project are to: 1. develop and adapt spatial memory and spatial navigation assessment tools to be administered to deaf/Deaf population; 2. characterize the spatial memory and spatial navigation abilities in young adults who are deaf, with and without vestibular impairments (VI); and 3. assess the role of ASL in spatial memory and navigation abilities in older adults. Older individuals with VI may present with difficulty with spatial memory and navigation, which increases the risk of falling or wayfinding difficulties. High prevalence (54-85%) of VI in deaf population puts older deaf individuals at risk, while evidence of high visuo-spatial IQ in ASL users suggests that the spatial cognitive functions among deaf ASL users with VI may not be as affected as those among deaf non-ASL users with VI. To address purpose #1 and #2 spatial memory and spatial navigation assessment tools (virtual reality navigation and memory tasks, sense-of-direction questionnaire) will be normed and adapted to the young deaf adult population (ages 21-35). To address purposes #3, these spatial memory and navigation tasks are administered to subjects 60 years or older with different experiences in hearing status, ASL use, and VI.


Developing Positive Attitudes toward Science in University Lab Classes

Principal Investigator:
Dr. Cara Gormally, Assistant Professor
Department of Science, Mathematics and Technology, Gallaudet University

Regardless of career direction, our graduates face challenging decisions related to science. Yet most Gallaudet students, as at other colleges, take only one science course. Lab class is particularly important: there, students see and actually do science themselves. Research shows that students benefit from inquiry- based labs. In inquiry-based labs, students develop and conduct their own experiments. Students gain science literacy, knowledge, and reasoning. In addition to knowledge, however, students must develop positive attitudes toward science if we expect them to engage with scientific issues beyond the classroom. We know that students’ attitudes toward science are stronger predictors of future engagement with science than content knowledge. This project’s goal is to investigate how inquiry-based learning impacts our students’ attitudes toward science and their science literacy development. The study focuses on Deaf and hard-of-hearing students’ experiences in inquiry-based labs, because few studies about inquiry-based learning have disaggregated demographics to know if results can be generalized across courses, institutions, or diverse student populations. The best opportunity to do this is here at Gallaudet. The project uses longitudinal comparative data from both traditional stepwise and inquiry-based labs, including surveys, quantitative assessments, and interviews. This knowledge is critical to support student engagement in science learning.

Pro-Tactile American Sign Language

Principal Investigator:
Terra Edwards, Assistant Professor
Department of Linguistics, Gallaudet University

This study examines effects of the pro-tactile movement on language and embodiment among DeafBlind people at Gallaudet. Using anthropological, linguistic, and architectural methods, we ask how collective shifts in sensory orientation affect the deictic, phonological, and semantic systems of American Sign Language. Prior research about DeafBlind people has focused on teaching and counseling methods, variation in human interaction, and practical instruction for sign language interpreters. Our research focuses instead on how DeafBlind people converge on common orientation schemes by interacting with, and talking about, their environment, and how their language is thereby affected. In order to examine this process, we have designed three activities for participants, each of which will elicit particular linguistic forms. Activities include map-making, direction-giving, and object-describing. We will also employ anthropological methods of ethnographic observation at pro-tacitle events on campus and in the surrounding area. The results of this research will contribute to: (1) current debates in anthropology, pyschology, and linguistics about the emergence and development of signed languages; (2) current debates in deaf studies about language, the body, and the built environment; and (3) linguistic anthropological understandings of how language, space, and the body are mutually constituted in interaction.

[Last modified: 2017.01.28 21:22:02. by Brian Showalter]

DISCLAIMER: This website contains documents with terms that may be considered by today's reader as outdated and even offensive. For example, the term "hearing impairment" is sometimes used as a category for levels of hearing loss, such as hard of hearing and deaf. Some people now see cultural identification and communication preference as defining characteristics behind terms such as hard of hearing and deaf, and they do not favor terms conveying medical distinctions and loss. Yet we recognize that removing and changing terms may alter the precise meaning of the scientific author. A solution may be found by expanding the scope of future research to include non-medical perspectives.
Valid HTML 5 Valid CSS 3 WAVE (WebAIM) Approved