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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Iowa: Research Advances Understanding of How Children Learn Words

Researchers at the University of Iowa want to understand how children learn words. The study is led by Dr. Bob McMurray, a professor in the University of Iowa Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. Dr. Jacob Oleson, professor of biostatistics in the University of Iowa College of Public Health is a co-investigator on the project.

With $2.1 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health, Dr. McMurray’s team is partnering with schools in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City to enroll hundreds of elementary-age children in his research, which uses novel eye-tracking technology to learn how children identify and form vocabulary. The effort, called the Growing Words Project, is important because it could help researchers better understand how children with language disorders or dyslexia identify spoken and written words. A better understanding could lead to an ability to help struggling children earlier and give them the word-learning assistance they need.

“We think our research gives us a pretty unique insight into not only how well a child is doing, but also why they may be doing poorly or what’s changing with language development,” Dr. McMurray says. “The goal is to try to figure out all the whys with how children recognize and learn words, something we just don’t know currently.”

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