Office of Epidemiology and Research, Division of Research

Advancing Applied MCH Research

Bridging the Word Gap Research Network

Funded Projects Search


Project Number: UA6MC27762
Grantee: University of Kansas
Department/Center: Center for Research
Project Date: 9/1/2014
Principal Investigator: Judith Carta

Final Report



  • Perinatal/Infancy (0-12 months)
  • Toddlerhood (13-35 months)
  • Early Childhood (3-5 years)


PROBLEM: The science is clear: Too many children from low-income families enter school with a serious learning disadvantage that emerges in the first months of life - substantially smaller vocabularies than their middle- and high-income classmates. This difference in child vocabulary size is traced to low exposure to talk in children's home and child care environments. The "Word Gap" in exposure that many children growing up in poverty experience, translates to a deficit in vocabulary growth that grows over time, and leads to disparities in academic achievement and later in earnings and family stability in adulthood. GOAL(S) AND OBJECTIVES: The social imperative is equally clear: We must galvanize efforts to close this gap in experience. The Goal of this project is to create the Bridging the Word Gap Research Network - a collaboration of nationally recognized Word Gap researchers and practitioners. This group will achieve 7 objectives to intensify efforts to close this gap: 1) Develop an interdisciplinary research network to develop and test interventions; 2) Create a national research agenda to advance the science of intervention; 3) Design a multi-level pilot intervention study to kick-start this work; 4) Create a practice-based research collaborative; 5) Disseminate critical information and foster continued education activities; 6) Improve national capacity to carry out this intervention research through development of a data infrastructure, and syntheses of measures, designs, and analytic approaches; and 7) Expand the pipeline of scientists focused on Word Gap research by creating mentorship and other training opportunities for new investigators. PROPOSED ACTIVITIES AND TARGET POPULATION(S): The applicant, Juniper Gardens Children's Project (JGCP), is the site of the original Hart & Risley word gap discovery, and our local and national network has, and will continue to, build on their discovery by advancing intervention knowledge and practice. Our proposed interdisciplinary network of scientists all work with low-income families in community-based settings. We propose work to achieve each objective in ways that are scientifically rigorous, socially meaningful, and related closely to innovations in intervention and policy. COORDINATION: To achieve these ambitious objectives, the co-PIs and Leadership Team will direct the overall management of the Network. Each member of the Leadership Team will direct one of 6 workgroups focused on key aspects of the research agenda. A national advisory committee representing key stakeholder groups (including researchers, practitioners, policymakers and funders) will oversee progress. Coordination Core staff will provide support to the Leadership Team, Workgroups, and the Practice-Based Research Collaborative. PRODUCTS: Peer-reviewed papers, webinars, summits and presentations describing evidence-based practices for promoting language development in low-income infants and toddlers; and innovative approaches to engaging high-risk families; cutting-edge research methodologies and approaches for assessing children's vocabulary and monitoring growth will also be generated through this Network. EVALUATION: We describe explicit criteria for monitoring process and progress on each of 7 objectives of the project. Advisory board members representing key stakeholder groups and an External Reviewer will assess the quality of products generated by the network.


Listed is descending order by year published.

Choi JH, Mendelsohn AL, Weisleder A, Cates CB, Canfield C, Seery A, Dreyer BP, Tomopoulos S. Real-World Usage of Educational Media Does Not Promote Parent-Child Cognitive Stimulation Activities. Acad Pediatr. 2018 Mar;18(2):172-78.

Kelley E, Leary E, Goldstein H. Predicting Response to Treatment in a Tier 2 Supplemental Vocabulary Intervention. J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2018 Jan 22;61(1):94-103.

McDaniel BT, Radesky JS. Technoference: Parent Distraction With Technology and Associations With Child Behavior Problems. Child Dev. 2018 Jan;89(1):100-9.

Peredo TN, Zelaya MI, Kaiser AP. Teaching Low-Income Spanish-Speaking Caregivers to Implement EMT en Español With Their Young Children With Language Impairment: A Pilot Study. Am J Speech Lang Pathol. 2018 Feb 6;27(1):136-153.

TFrey JR, Kaiser AP, Scherer NJ. The Influences of Child Intelligibility and Rate on Caregiver Responses to Toddlers With and Without Cleft Palate. Cleft Palate Craniofac J. 2018 Feb;55(2):276-286.

Curtis, P.R., Roberts, M.Y., Estabrook, R., Kaiser, A.P. The Longitudinal Effects of Early Language Intervention on Children's Problem Behaviors. Child Development. December 2017 (in Press).

Beecher, C.C., Abbott, M.I., Petersen, S., Greenwood, C.R. Using the Quality of Literacy Implementation Checklist to Improve Preschool Literacy Instruction. Early Childhood Education Journal. 2017 45(5):595-602.

Brito NH. Influence of the home linguistic environment on early language development. Policy Insights from Behav Brain Sci. 2017. 4;2:155-62. doi:10.1177/2372732217720699.

Forrest TM, Wallace-Pascoe DM, Webb MD, Goldstein H. Giving the community a voice: Lessons learned from a comprehensive survey in an urban neighborhood. 2017. 60;130-42.

Gilkerson J, Richards JA, Warren SF, Montgomery JK, Greenwood CR, Kimbrough Oller D, Hansen JHL, Paul TD. Mapping the Early Language Environment Using All-Day Recordings and Automated Analysis. Am J Speech Lang Pathol. 2017 May 17;26(2):248-265.

Goldstein H, Ziolkowski RA, Bojczyk KE, Marty A, Schneider N, Harpring J, Haring CD. Academic Vocabulary Learning in First Through Third Grade in Low-Income Schools: Effects of Automated Supplemental Instruction. J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2017 Nov 9;60(11):3237-3258.

Goldstein, H., Olswang, L. Is there a science to facilitate implementation of evidence-based practices and programs? Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention. 2017 11 (3-4):55-60.

Greenwood, C.R., Abbott, M., Beecher, C., Atwater, J., Petersen, S. Development, Validation, and Evaluation of Literacy 3D: A Package Supporting Tier 1 Preschool Literacy Instruction Implementation and Intervention. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education. 2017 37(1):29-41.

Grob R, Schlesinger M, Pace A, Golinkoff RM, Hirsh-Pasek K. Playing With Ideas: Evaluating the Impact of the Ultimate Block Party, a Collective Experiential Intervention to Enrich Perceptions of Play. Child Dev. 2017 Sep;88(5):1419-1434

Hampton LH, Kaiser AP, Roberts MY. One-Year Language Outcomes in Toddlers With Language Delays: An RCT Follow-up. Pediatrics. 2017 Nov;140(5). pii: e20163646.

Hassinger-Das, B., Toub, T.S., Zosh, J.M., Michnick, J., Golinkoff, R., Hirsh-Pasek, K. More than just fun: a place for games in playful learning / Más que diversión: el lugar de los juegos reglados en el aprendizaje lúdico. Infancia y Aprendizaje. 2017 40(2):191-218.

Head Zauche, L., Darcy Mahoney, A.E., Thul, T.A., Zauche, M.S., Weldon, A.B., Stapel-Wax, J.L. The Power of Language Nutrition for Children's Brain Development, Health, and Future Academic Achievement. Journal of Pediatric Health Care. (2017) 31(4):493-503.

Kaiser, A.P., Scherer, N.J., Frey, J.R., Roberts, M.Y. The effects of enhanced milieu teaching with phonological emphasis on the speech and language skills of young children with cleft palate: A pilot study. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. 2017 26(3):806-18.

Knoche, L.L., Witte, A.L. Home-school partnerships in support of young children’s development: The intersection of relationships, rurality, and race. Advances in Race and Ethnicity in Education. (Book Chapter). 2017 5:145-164.

Lefever JEB, Bigelow KM, Carta JJ, Borkowski JG, Grandfield E, McCune L, Irvin DW, Warren SF. Long-Term Impact of a Cell Phone-Enhanced Parenting Intervention. Child Maltreat. 2017 Nov;22(4):305-314

Olswang, L.B., Goldstein, H. Collaborating on the development and implementation of evidence-based practices: Advancing science and practice. Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention. 2017 11(3-4):61-71.

Olszewski, A., Soto, X., Goldstein, H. Modeling alphabet skills as instructive feedback within a phonological awareness intervention. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. 2017 26(3):769-790.

Reed J, Hirsh-Pasek K, Golinkoff RM. Learning on hold: Cell phones sidetrack parent-child interactions. Dev Psychol. 2017 Aug;53(8):1428-1436.

Romano M, Woods J. Collaborative coaching with EHS teachers using responsive communication strategies. Topics Early Child Spec Educ. 2017.March 14. 3;14:1-12. doi:10.1177/0271121417696276

Russo-Johnson C, Troseth G, Duncan C, Mesghina A. All Tapped Out: Touchscreen Interactivity and Young Children's Word Learning. Front Psychol. 2017 Apr 12;8:578.

Russo-Johnson C, Troseth G, Duncan C, Mesghina A. All Tapped Out: Touchscreen Interactivity and Young Children's Word Learning. Front Psychol. 2017 Apr 12;8:578.

Singh L, Fu CS, Tay ZW, Golinkoff RM. Novel Word Learning in Bilingual and Monolingual Infants: Evidence for a Bilingual Advantage. Child Dev. 2017 Feb 3. [Epub ahead of print].

Song L, Golinkoff RM, Stuehling A, Resnick I, Mahajan N, Hirsh-Pasek K, Moynihan N. Parents' and Experts' Awareness of Learning Opportunities in Children's Museum Exhibits. J Appl Dev Psychol. 2017 Mar-Apr;49:39-45.

Thiemann-Bourque, K.S., McGuff, S., Goldstein, H. Training peer partners to use a speech-generating device with classmates with autism spectrum disorder: Exploring communication outcomes across preschool contexts. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. 2017 60(9):2648-62.

Troseth G, Strouse GA. Designing and using digital books for learning: The informative case of young children and video. Int J Child-Computer Interact. 2017. 12:3-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcci.2016.12.002.

Weisleder, A. Towards a bioecological model of bilingual development. Bilingualism. 2017 20(1):35-36.

Willard JA, Hammer CS, Bitetti D, Cycyk LM, Leyendecker B. Mothers’ depressive symptoms and their children’s Turkish heritage language vocabulary development. Int J Biling. 2017 1-16. doi:10.1177/1367006917709095.

Wright CA, Kaiser AP. Teaching parents using milieu teaching with words and signs using the teach-model-coach-review model. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education. 2017;36(4)192-204. doi: 10.1177/027112141561027.

DiStefano C, Shih W, Kaiser A, Landa R, Kasari C. Communication growth in minimally verbal children with ASD: the importance of interaction. Autism Res. 2016 Oct;9(10):1093-1102. doi: 10.1002/aur.1594. PMID: 26824676

Greenwood CR, Carta JJ, Goldstein H, Kaminski R, et al. Developing evidence-based tools for a multi-tier approach to preschool language and early literacy instruction. J Early Inter. 2016;36(4);246-62.

Knoche, L.L., Davis, D.L. Rural language and literacy connections: An integrated approach to supporting low-income preschool children’s language and literacy development. Rural Education Research in the United States: State of the Science and Emerging Directions. (Book Chapter) 2016 181-199.

Radesky Js, Carta J, Bair-Merritt M. The 30 million-word gap: relevance for pediatrics. JAMA Pediatr. 2016 Sep 1;170(9):825-826. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.1486. PMID: 27379489.

Roggman LA, Peterson CA, Chazan-Cohen R, Ispa J, Decker KB, Hughes-Belding K, Cook GA, Vallotton CD. Preparing home visitors to partner with families of infants and toddlers. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education. 2016 37(4), pp. 301-13

Sherer NJ, Baker S, Kaiser A, Frey JR. Longitudinal comparison of the speech and language performance of United States-born and internationally adopted toddlers with cleft lip and palate: a pilot study. Cleft Palat Craniofac J. 2016 Oct 10 [Epub ahead of print].

Suskind DL, Graf E, Leffel KR, et al. Project ASPIRE: spoken language intervention curriculum for parents of low-socioeconomic status and their deaf and hard-of-hearing children. Otol Neurotol. 2016 Feb;37(2):e110-e117. doi: 10.1097/MAO.0000000000000931. PMID: 26756142.

Suskind DL, Leffel KR, Graf E, et al. A parent-directed language intervention in children of low socioeconomic status: A randomized controlled study [published online June 4 2015]. J Child Lang. 2016;43(2):366-406.

Verdine BN, Lucca KR, Golinkoff RM, Hirsh-Pasek K, et al. The shape of things: The origin of young children's knowledge of the names and properties of geometric forms. J Cogn Dev. 2016;17(1):142-61.

Forrest TM, Wallace-Pascoe D, Goldstein H. Developing a principle-based framework for evaluating comprehensive poverty solutions across contexts [published online July 7 2015]. J Poverty. 2015;19(3):330.

Golinkoff RM, Can DD, Soderstrom M, Hirsh-Pasek K. (Baby) talk to me: The social context of infant-directed speech and its effects on early language acquisition. Curr Dir Psychol Sci. 2015;24(5):339-44.

Hirsh-Pasek K, Adamson LB, Bakeman R, et al. The contribution of early communication quality to low-income children's language success. Psychol Sci. 2015;26(7):1071-83.

Kelley ES, Goldstein H, Spencer TD, Sherman A. Effects of automated Tier 2 storybook intervention on vocabulary and comprehension learning in preschool children with limited oral language skills. Early Child Res Q. 2015;31:47-61.

Ridge KE, Weisberg DS, Ilgaz H, Hirsh‐Pasek KA, et al. Supermarket speak: increasing talk among low‐socioeconomic status families. Mind, Brain, and Education. 2015;9(3):127-135.

Weisberg DS, Ilgaz H, Hirsh-Pasek K, Golinkoff R, et al. Shovels and swords: How realistic and fantastical themes affect children's word learning. Cognitive Development. 2015;35:1-14.

Zosh JM, Verdine BN, Filipowicz A, Golinkoff RM, et al. Talking Shape: Parental Language With Electronic Versus Traditional Shape Sorters. Mind, Brain, and Education [published online July 15 2015]. 2015;9(3):136-144.

Carta JJ, Greenwood CR, Atwater J, McConnell SR, et al. Identifying preschool children for higher tiers of language and early literacy instruction within a Response to Intervention framework. J Early Inter. 2014;36(4):281-91.

Guttentag CL, Landry SH, Williams JM, et al. "My Baby & Me": effects of an early, comprehensive parenting intervention on at-risk mothers and their children. Dev Psychol. 2014;50(5):1482-96.

McConnell SR, Wackerle-Hollman AK, Bradfield TA, Rodriguez MC. Designing a measurement framework for Response to Intervention in early childhood programs [published online April 7 2015]. J Early Inter. 2014;36(4):263-280.


Cognitive & Linguistic Development, Early Childhood Education, Early Intervention, Health Disparities, Home Visiting, Parent-Child Relationship, Parenting, School Outcomes & Services

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