Graduate Research 2014: Profiles of CD Graduate Researchers

Wes Heidenreich

Wes Heidenreich

Photo of CD Students Presenting at theGrad Research Showcase 2014

(From left)
Audrey Debouverie, Veronica Castillo, and Bronwen Morgan with their posters at the 2014 SF State Graduate Research Showcase

Wes Heidenreich, Audrey Debouverie, Veronica Castillo, and Bronwen Morgan shared their research with the SF State community this year in the Graduate Research Showcase. Congratulations to all for a job well done!

Additionally, Wes won 2nd place in the CSU-wide Graduate Research Competition on May 2-3, 2014 at CSU East Bay in the Health, Nutrition, and Clinical Science category. His research advisor is Dr. Patti Solomon-Rice. Wes was selected as one of only seven researchers to represent SF State at the  Congratulations, Wes!
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Wes Heidenreich

Title: Pragmatic Presupposition and its Impact on the Syntax of an AAC User: A Case Study

Pragmatic presupposition is the act of assuming a conversational partner already has a high level of understanding regarding the current conversational topic. Non-AAC speakers use this process to determine how much content to include in the utterances they produce. Do AAC, graphic-symbol communicators use pragmatic presupposition to determine the level of syntactic complexity to produce in an utterance? The current case study examined the syntax produced by one AAC, graphic-symbol communicator in two separate contexts: one in which the conversational partner exhibited a high-level of topic awareness and another in which he or she demonstrated a low level. Using S.A.L.T. language sampling software, the utterances from the two contexts were analyzed and compared using several measurements of linguistic and grammatical complexity. Results indicate that utterances produced by the AAC user in contexts in which the conversational partner demonstrated a low level of topic awareness were more syntactically complex relative to those produced in high-level contexts. These results may indicate that the AAC user utilized pragmatic presupposition to determine the level of syntactic complexity necessary to convey sufficient meaning in that context.

Advisor: Patti Solomon-Rice

Audrey Debouberie

Title: Phonologically-Based Naming Treatment In Individuals With Damage To Perisylvian Regions In The Brain 

Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is a language disorder caused by a neurodegenerative disease. Even though individuals who suffer from it undergo a gradual decreased in their communicative skills, it has been demonstrated by many studies that behavioral language treatments are very valuable and effective for the patients. In this study, we present two cases, one with semantic variant of PPA and the other with logopenic PPA, each of whom underwent a very specific phonologically-based naming treatment. Several studies have shown the positive effects of a semantically-based treatment across variants of PPA after which the gains were generalized and maintained. Here, we want to see if a phonologically-based treatment results in such positive effects on both variants, and we analyze the discrepancy of word retrieval improvement made by our individual suffering from phonologically-based impairment and our individual suffering from a semantically-based impairment. This presentation will discuss the observed word retrieval improvements (if any) in both variants, as well as generalization and maintenance of gains.

Advisor: Laura Epstein & Maya Henry

Veronica Castillo

Title: Family Perspectives on Disabilities in Rural Guatemala

The American Academy of Pediatrics (1993) references the state of knowledge among culture, chronic illness, child development, and family functioning, for the purpose of developing culturally appropriate health policies, culturally sensitive services, and culturally competent clinicians. Therefore, in order for a professional to provide appropriate services, they must provide culturally appropriate intervention. Speech Language Pathologists (SLP) can gain invaluable information from listening to their client’s stories and experiences in order to understand their perspective towards disabilities and communication disorders. This qualitative study seeks to understand the perspectives of three Guatemalan mothers raising children with special needs who have benefited from Nueva Vida, a special education school in rural Guatemala, including three teachers, a SLP, and a school psychologist. This study also discusses the implications for SLPs and how theycan provide culturally relevant care and services to clients with limited resources and educational opportunities.

Advisor: Laura Epstein

Bronwen Morgan

Title: Looking at Games as Learning Contexts for an Adolescent with Autism and Significant Intellectual Disability

I outline two cognitive constructs that attempt to explain core social and communicative impairments in autism: theory of mind (ToM) and joint attention (JA). The trajectory from ToM to JA traces a path from describing autism as an impairment in mentalizing to an impairment based in atypical sensorimotor experience. I relate this description of autism to current educational research in situated cognition, showing how game-like frameworks may be used to develop learning environments for individuals with moderate to severe disabilities.

The second section offers a case study relating play behaviors, including length of sustained attention and number of self-initiated, goal-directed actions, with features of three game environments, including levels of intentional complexity, and kinds of opportunities for action and interaction that the games offer.

Advisor: Betty Yu

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