September 29, 2014

International Society for Cultural and Activity Research Conference

This week Sarah Verdon is presenting two papers from her PhD at the International Society for Cultural and ActivityResearch Conference in Sydney.
  • Verdon, S., McLeod, S., & Wong, S. (2014, September). Using CHAT to explore speech-language pathology practices from around the world with culturally and linguistically diverse children. International Society for Cultural and Activity Research Conference, Sydney, Australia.
  • Verdon, S., McLeod, S., & Wong, S. (2014, September). Imagining new possibilities for embracing cultural and linguistic diversity in children with communication difficulties. International Society for Cultural and Activity Research Conference, Sydney, Australia.

The continued mobility of people across geographic boundaries has made the world a melting pot of people from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. As a result, monolingual and monocultural approaches to supporting the needs of children with communication difficulties are not effective among diverse populations. To address this issue, the International Expert Panel on Multilingual Children’s Speech was assembled in 2012. Fourteen members of this panel met in Cork, Ireland to discuss future aspirations for the transformation of the speech-language pathology profession in its provision of services to children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Six hours of discussion were recorded and transcribed. Analysis of the transcribed data was undertaken using Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) as heuristic framework. The individual components of CHAT (object, subject, mediating artefact, rules, community and division of labour) were considered in relation to the panel’s discussion. This analysis revealed that within each component tensions existed between what panel members imagined as the ideal enactment of speech-language pathology practice, and the current reality of service provision. The findings of this analysis reflected a need to view children holistically, by acknowledging and incorporating their individual culture and exposure to language(s) into all aspects of planning and implementing strategies to support them to prosper in the context of their daily lives. Members of the panel advocated the use of the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health - Children and Youth version (ICF-CY). This framework was seen by panel members as a transformative tool which could be used to empower speech-language pathologists in their practice by facilitating consideration of the many internal and external factors that may influence children’s speech and language development. This presentation will highlight the productivity of using CHAT to identify possibilities for influencing changes to complex activity systems by identifying inhibitory processes occurring within the system and identifying means to affect these changes. In making achievable changes to everyday practices, speech-language pathologists have the potential to challenge the existing constraints of practice and influence the transformation of the profession in working towards positive outcomes for culturally and linguistically diverse children.

September 19, 2014

Visitors from Slovenia

We have welcomed two visitors from Slovenia to Bathurst over the past few days. Dr Damjana Kogovšek, is a lecturer in speech and language therapy in the Faculty of Education at the University of Ljubljana, and Alenka Vidmar a speech and language therapist who works at Kindergarten Kekec in Grosuplje. Damjana collaborated with her colleague Martina Ozbič to translate the Intelligibility in Context Scale into Slovenian and they have published a paper about the use of the ICS in Slovenia:
Kogovšek, D., & Ozbič, M. (2013). Lestvica razumljivosti govora v vsakdanjem življenju: slovenščina. Komunikacija, 2(3), 28-34.
While they have been here they have met with my PhD students, Ben Pham and Sarah Verdon. They visited the Bathurst Early Childhood Intervention Service (BECIS). We have discussed future research regarding the Slovenian ICS. They also have seen 51 kangaroos close to Charles Sturt University!
Sharynne McLeod, Damjana Kogovšek, Alenka Vidmar, and Ben Pham
At Bathurst's King's Parade L-R: Ninh, Minh, Damjana, Alenka, Sharynne
Four of the 51 kangaroos we spotted

September 18, 2014

Workshop: Lessons learned from the Australian Research Council

Today Professor Lisa Given and I presented a workshop for researchers in the Faculty of Education and Research Institute of Professional Practice, Learning and Education at Charles Sturt University. The morning session was titled: “Lessons learned from the Australian Research Council” and covered the following content:
  • Experiences as a grant writer – Sharynne McLeod
  • Experiences as a grant assessor – Lisa Given, ARC
  • Discussion of participants' questions, issues
After the workshop participants had 1:1 feedback sessions about their grant applications.
I shared the following editorial – and while it was written about writing journal articles it also applies to grant writing.

McLeod, S. (2014). Undertaking and writing research that is important, targeted, and the best you can do. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 16(2), 95-97. doi: doi:10.3109/17549507.2014.896106

September 16, 2014

Interprofessional practice

This week Dr Jane Payler from the University of Winchester, UK has been visiting Charles Sturt University. On Monday she presented a lunchtime lecture titled "Researching interprofessional practice in early years settings in England". Today she met with a group of early childhood and speech pathology researchers from the Research Institute of Professional Practice, Learning and Education (RIPPLE) to explore more deeply the issues of and opportunities for interprofessional practice. It has been a very informative and generative time of networking and planning for future collaborations.
L-R: Tamara Cumming, Sandie Wong, Jane Payler, Jennifer Sumsion, Fran Press,
Jane McCormack, Sarah Verdon, Sharynne McLeod, Angela Fenton (via video conference)

Health and wellbeing in childhood

A new book has just been published titled Health and Wellbeing in Childhood, and my colleagues and I have two chapters within the book:
  1. McCormack, J. & McLeod, S. (2014). Classifying health and wellbeing. In S. Garvis & D. Pendergast (Eds). Health and wellbeing in the early years (pp. 20-30). Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.
  2.  McCormack, J., McLeod, S. & Harrison, L. J. (2014). Communication development. In S. Garvis and D. Pendergast (Eds). Health and wellbeing in the early years (pp. 50-5960. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.
There are two other chapters from colleagues within the Early Years Education Collaborative Research Network addressing Friendships (Theobald, Danby, Thompson, & Thorpe) and Sexual Abuse Prevention Education (Walsh, Berthelsen & Nicholson).

September 15, 2014

3 minute thesis

Today Sarah Verdon competed in the Charles Sturt University heats of the 3 minute thesis. She described her PhD research in 3 minutes + 1 powerpoint slide. There were 17 contestants and Sarah was awarded second place. Congratulations Sarah.

September 12, 2014

Australian Human Rights Commission presentation

Tonight I attended a Charles Sturt University public lecture presented by Professor Gillian Triggs, the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission. She spoke about "Children in immigration detention: What are the human rights issues?". Her powerful presentation was well received by the large audience. The Commission's National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention will be presented to parliament this month.

September 10, 2014

Research plannning with colleagues in Vietnam

Today Ben Pham and I talked with eight colleagues in HCMC, Vietnam for almost 3 hours via Skype. We are continuing to plan a large-scale research project to document Vietnamese children's speech acquisition. Everyone is motivated by the desire to support Vietnamese children.
Dr Ly Kha and Ms Xuan at Pham Ngoc Thach University in HCMC, Vietnam

Attitudes towards the capabilities of deaf and hard of hearing adults: Insights from the parents of deaf and hard of hearing children

The following manuscript has been accepted for publication. It is the last paper from the data collected as part of Kate Crowe’s PhD.
Crowe, K., McLeod, S., McKinnon, D. H., & Ching, T. Y. C. (2014, in press September). Attitudes towards the capabilities of deaf and hard of hearing adults: Insights from the parents of deaf and hard of hearing children. American Annals of the Deaf
Here is the abstract
Children who are Deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) grow-up in environments influenced by their parents’ attitudes. These attitudes may act as barriers or facilitators to children’s development and participation (World Health Organization, 2007). The attitudes held by 152 Australian parents of DHH children aged between 3;7 years and 9;5 years (mean = 6;5) were investigated using the Opinions about Deaf People scale (Berkay, Gardner, & Smith, 1995b). The parents’ responses showed they had very positive attitudes towards the capabilities of DHH adults and consistently had strongly positive responses to items describing the intellectual and vocational capabilities of DHH adults. Parents’ responses to the majority of items on the Opinions about Deaf People scale were positively skewed. This raises questions about the validity of this scale as a research tool when used with parents of DHH children. These findings suggest that for these DHH children, parents’ attitudes may be facilitative, rather than presenting an environmental barrier to children’s development.

September 9, 2014

Public lecture is available online

A few weeks ago I presented a Charles Sturt University Public Lecture to document my 4 year Australian Research Council Future Fellowship. It is now available online here or here.

Presentations from the 2014 AIATSIS National Indigenous Studies Conference

Presentations from the 2014 AIATSIS National Indigenous Studies Conference have been made available today at the following website:
More details about the conference and our presentation are available here.

Virtual special issue on the World Report on Disability

Today Disability and Rehabilitation published a virtual special issue to "bring together papers published in the last two years which address the World report on disability research agenda, with a specific focus on health and rehabilitation." (Muller, 2014, p. 1486).
Tom Shakespeare and Alana Officer were the guest editors, and wrote:
  • "Interventions such as an appropriate wheelchair, speech and language therapy can make the difference between being included, and being left on the margins." (Shakespeare & Officer, 2014, p. 1487)
  • "the editors of this special issue fervently hope that these papers contribute to promoting these shared understandings and partnership working, so that the lives of people with disabilities will be improved." (p. 1488)
My colleagues and I are honoured to be included in the special issue

McLeod, S., McAllister, L., McCormack, J., & Harrison, L. J. (2014). Applying the World Report on Disability to children’s communication. Disability and Rehabilitation, 36(18), 1518-1528. doi:10.3109/09638288.2013.833305
Here is our abstract:
Purpose: The World Report on Disability is an important milestone in the recognition of people with disabilities; however, the Report acknowledges that people with communication difficulties may be underrepresented in estimates of disability. Consequently, this article applies the nine recommendations from the World Report on Disability to supporting children’s communication skills. Method: Australia is similar to most Minority World countries since it places high regard on articulate and literate communication. Recent large-scale Australian studies of children with speech, language and communication needs were reviewed to determine prevalence, impact and associated environmental and personal factors. Studies of met and unmet need were reviewed and discussed in relation to legislation and policies. Results: Recent years have seen improvements in the collection of and access to disability data about children’s communication, including the involvement of children in research about the impact of communication difficulties on their lives. The prevalence of speech and language impairment in children is high and is associated with poorer educational and social outcomes at school-age. Significant unmet need for services was noted, and there were differences in health, education and disability policies regarding access to services. Conclusions: Updated legislation, policies and practices are needed to more effectively support access to services to support children’s communication across health, education and disability sectors.Implications for Rehabilitation
  • There is a high prevalence of speech and language impairment in Australian children.
  • Childhood speech and language impairment (and associated communication disability) can impact educational, social, behavioural and occupational outcomes throughout life.
  • Many Australian children do not have sufficient access to targeted services (including speech-language pathology) to ameliorate the impact of their communication disability.
  • Formulation of a national strategy to support children children’s communication is required.
Read More:

Muller, D. (2014). Announcing the upcoming publication of a virtual special issue of Disability and Rehabilitation. Disability and Rehabilitation, 36(18), 1486-1486. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2014.960655

Shakespeare, T., & Officer, A. (2014). Breaking the barriers, filling the gaps. Disability and Rehabilitation, 36(18), 1487-1488. doi:10.3109/09638288.2013.878552

September 5, 2014

Invited keynote address to teachers of the deaf

Today Dr Kate Crowe presented an invited keynote address to itinerant teachers of the deaf titled: Cultural and linguistic diverse deaf learners: Overcoming the hidden curriculum. Here is the abstract.

Early Childhood Australia conference presentations

The Early Childhood Australia national conference is being held from 4-7 September in Melbourne. The Excellence in Early Years Education Collaborative Research Network (Charles Sturt University, Queensland University of Technology, Monash University) presented a symposium today. Sarah Verdon and Maryanne Theobald presented our final paper in the symposium.
Symposium Title: Insights into Change and Learning: Adult and Child Perspectives 
Chair: Frances Press1
The Excellence in Research in the Early Years Collaborative Research Network (CRN) is an Australian government- funded initiative to support collaboration amongst early years academics and PhD candidates at Charles Sturt University, Queensland University of Technology and Monash University. The purpose of the collaboration is to build research, skills and knowledge, and to contribute to strengthening Australian evidence base about early childhood education. This symposium illustrates some of the collaborative work being undertaken by members of the CRN. The projects featured in the symposium focus on the early childhood workforce, professional learning, and children’s learning, with references to the conference themes of leadership, community and identity. Collectively, the presentations offer insights into how adults and children make sense of complex and changing contexts and circumstances.
Title: The early childhood workforce: Myths, realities and challenges
Presenters: Frances Press1, Tamara Cumming1, and Megan Gibson2
Title:  Leading change on assessment for learning and development through multi-service inquiry
Presenters:  Iris Duhn3, Marilyn Fleer3, and Linda J. Harrison1
Title: Children’s insights on friendships and becoming bilingual
Presenters: Sharynne McLeod1, Sarah Verdon1, and Maryanne Theobald2

The impact of learning a second language on children’s friendships has rarely been studied from a child’s perspective. This paper describes two monolingual school-aged children’s insights into becoming bilingual at four time points: 2 months before moving to another country (while living in an English-speaking country), as well as one, six and twelve months after moving to Germany. The participants were English-speaking siblings (male with mild speech sound disorder aged 7- to 8-years and a typically developing female aged 9- to 10-years) who subsequently learned to speak German. At each of the four time points, interviews were undertaken with each child using child-friendly drawing and questionnaire techniques. The impact of language ability on making friends was a dominant theme that arose across the four time points and was triangulated across data collection methods. The children made friends with others who had similar language competence in German, even though they were younger, and did not share the same first language. Becoming bilingual impacted the children’s friendship formation and socialization opportunities with more competent language users. Children highlighted being excluded from activities and strategies for inclusion and forming friendships in bilingual environments.

1Charles Sturt University
2Queensland University of Technology
3Monash University