Language and Play Everyday: Promoting Early Language Development Through Cross-Disciplinary Personnel Preparation
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Research has shown that many of the disciplines typically included on early intervention/early childhood special education (EI/ECSE) teams receive minimal to no specialized training or coursework in EI/ECSE, and/or little emphasis or opportunity for interdisciplinary collaboration and instruction (Campbell, Chiarello, Wilcox, & Milbourne, 2009; Bruder & Dunst, 2005). As such, graduate students across IDEA related disciplines need more specific instruction and supervised experiences in collaborative service delivery, and evidenced-based social- communication interventions. The primary objective of this study was to examine the effectiveness of the Language and Play Everyday (LAPE) program as a model of cross-disciplinary training for graduate students in the Communication Disorders and Sciences (CDS) and Early Intervention/ Early Childhood Special Education (EIP) programs at the University of Oregon. Participants included four first-term graduate students (i.e., two from CDS; two from EIP) enrolled in the LAPE practicum during Fall 2016. Multiple outcome measures, including a pre-post competency/self-efficacy questionnaire as well as analysis of student-child interaction videos, were used to evaluate the degree to which students’ knowledge and use of child language development principles, language-enhancing strategies, and overall confidence changed throughout the 11-week practicum experience. Analysis of student-child interaction samples revealed that all students increased their use of language-enhancing strategies in group and/or individual play contexts directly following an initial LAPE training workshop, and again after an individualized coaching session. Pre-post competency and self-efficacy questionnaires indicated students made growth in both their overall confidence and knowledge of child language development and language-enhancing strategies across the 11-week practicum placement. Future recommendations include increasing opportunities for collaboration and sharing of discipline-related knowledge during training activities as well as providing continued opportunities for individualized coaching.