MQ TaLK Centre research methods

MQ TaLK Centre research methods

At the child’s early childhood centre

Time 1

Each participating child is visited at their centre once, between the age of 12 and 18 months.

90 minute video observation: We will video-record the child during normal free play time over a period of 90 minutes. The child won't be asked to do anything special or different from his or her normal activities. The researcher will use a hand held camcorder and use the zoom to remain at a comfortable distance from the child so as to be as unobtrusive as possible.

‘One day in the centre’ LENA recording: The LENA (Language Environment Analysis system) is made up of a small recording device which slips inside a custom-made loose vest worn by the child for a period of time. The device records voice and other sounds that are experienced and produced by the child, including talk to the infant, infant vocalisations, and other noise such as TV, banging sounds, vehicles, etc. Once recorded, the sound file is analysed using software that produces number-based summaries of how much clear and unclear talk the child has heard and produced, how many vocalisations he/she has produced, and how many interactions the child has experienced.

LENA is very easy to use – the vest (with the recorder inside the pocket) is simply put on the child and then is left turned on for the day (the vest can be removed during sleep for comfort). The researcher will help fit the vest and turn on the recorder. We have used LENA in previous studies, and found that most babies are totally at ease with it. At the end of the day, the LENA is turned off and returned to the researchers.

As the audio file can only be extracted from the recorder with the specialised LENA software, the recording is completely secure and confidential. Once recorded, the sound file is analysed using the LENA software to produce number-based summaries. In addition, 90 minutes of sound recording will be extracted (from the centre recording only).

Sound environment:  A researcher will take measures when the infants’ classroom is empty and occupied at various locations including outdoors, to monitor the noise exposure of the child’s immediate learning environment. The researcher will also take notes on room characteristics that can affect the sound environment, including floor coverings and proximity to noise sources such as roads and flight paths.

Centre measures: The researcher will collect information regarding the room’s average group size, numbers of educators and staff qualifications on the day of the visit. The centre’s National Quality Rating assessment will noted from the MyChild website.

Time 2

The child is visited at the centre approximately 2 years after Time 1 observations, when they are aged three.

60 minute video observation: The researcher will video record the now 3-year-old child during normal free play time over a period of 60 minutes. This recording will be conducted in the same manner as during the first visit.

Language development assessment: We will measure each child’s general language development using the widely used Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test and the Expressive Vocabulary Test. As we are also interested in how the child uses language, we will ask them to describe images and events in a picture story book story.

Sound environment: We will repeat the measures used at Time 1 (see above).

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