UK standardisation of Communicative Development Inventory - Words & Gestures

Lead Research Organisation: Lancaster University
Department Name: Psychology

Abstract

Most language milestones occur in the first few years of life, so knowing what is typical for very young children is vital. However, most language tests are inappropriate for very young children. One helpful research tool is parent-completed Communicative Development Inventories (CDIs) - checklists of children’s speech and gesture abilities. CDI norms are now used worldwide in child language and development research.



However, no standardised CDIs exist for UK English, which has limited UK researchers in the types of questions they can answer and the scale of studies.



This project will:






  • create the first standardised UK-CDI - the UK-CDI (Words and Gestures). This can then be used to establish norms for UK children aged 8-18 months 


  • use these data for two large-scale studies, on the effect of socio-economic factors, risk and resilience on children’s language development; and examining differences between children learning UK English, and other languages/dialects


  • study best practice in using the UK-CDI, especially with children at risk of language delay


  • make UK data freely available via a web-based Child Language Database.




The study will make a major contribution to language development research and increase effectiveness of public services and policy making.

Planned Impact

Beneficiaries of this work are public and private sectors, voluntary organisations, the general public and the media. In the public, private and third sectors, these include health professionals, pre-school education specialists, policymakers, community and voluntary groups, parents and their children.

Users will benefit from using the CDI and also from the database which will be standardised and normed, easy to use and inexpensive or free. The database provides a range of information including vocabulary category and size, age of acquisition of words and gestures, and word frequency. The CDI itself, the manual and database will contribute to effectiveness of public services. The availability of UK-wide vocabulary norms and the database will inform and guide policy recommendations throughout the UK, which will, in, turn contribute to improving the quality of life of families with children with, and at risk of, language delay.

Public and private sector groups and parents are informed about studies, allow them to take place on site and/or advertise for us. We keep such groups engaged by providing regular feedback including results of studies in non-specialist terms, through mailings, posters and lab open days.

Targeted relationships with professional groups will continue via dissemination of results, with recommendations for practical uses, in print, via user-friendly websites and electronic newsletters. Email notifications of website, CDIs and database updates will keep those who have attended events or workshops informed. We will distribute user-friendly summaries of our research and its applicability to policy-makers in the NHS and UK Government, including the DoH and the DfE, and equivalent bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Government research initiatives will benefit from both publications and access to the CDI and database to inform current (e.g. Children's Centres) and future projects (e.g. the 2012 Cohort).
The CDI will be available via publishers and database updates via electronic newsletter mailing lists. In the private sector, publishers of language assessment instruments will benefit from our initiative and will profit from publishing the CDI manuals and score sheets. We are currently negotiating with Pearson Assessment about publication. Communication and engagement plans will follow the ESRC and publisher's guidelines.

The media will benefit from our research as we will make ourselves accessible to print and broadcast media and be proactive in advertising our research, its results and products. We will employ the ESRC's Communications Toolkit to plan dissemination to media outlets locally, nationally and internationally. All universities have established press offices to assist in dissemination.

Both short-, medium- and long-term impact will be seen, ranging from immediate feedback to parents and children participating in questionnaire and standardised testing phases, through medium-term descriptions of the results to participant organisations, and media and professional journal articles, to very long-term outcomes for children in the UK as a whole via policy recommendations. Likewise, those directly involved and local to the study sites will benefit, but so will children, families, and professionals UK-wide, as well as professionals internationally who will be able to use the UK database to examine and compare cross-linguistic and cross-cultural data and norms.
 
Description Construction and standardisation of the UK Communicative Development Inventory (UK-CDI ), Words and Gestures
Aims and background
The MacArthur-Bates CDIs are standardised tools for easily assessing language and communicative development in American English. They are parent-completed questionnaires, easy to use in clinical practice with no speical training required for clinicians. It has adaptations to numerous other languages, but no version has yet been standardised in UK English. This means that it is not yet possible to assess UK children's early language development simply and easily and to compare them to norms or percentiles of other UK children. Current testing methods rely on trained personnel such as speech and language therapists, or compare children to norms from other countries.
We aimed to create and standardise a CDI for the UK for children aged 8-18 months, the UK version of the Words and Gestures Inventory (the UK-CDI W&G).
Work carried out
We piloted a version of the CDI based on versions used in various UK universities' Babylabs. We ensured that all words in the UK-CDI were those that children were more likely to understand as they got older; this is a crucial feature of items on a test of children's development but was not the case on all previous versions.
To standardise the UK-CDI we recruited families throughout the UK; 4575 parents signed up and 1693 contributed data to the norming sample. Families signed up through means ranging from being introduced to the study during an NHS contact (with a very low response rate, only 10.3% of those signing up going on to return a completed CDI) to participating through one of a wide range of UK university Babylabs (with 81% of those signing up through this route completing a CDI, though some were already participating in a study involving a CDI). Other productive methods of recruitment included advertising through a commercial social media company on Facebook, and some families with low incomes were given a supermarket voucher on completion as an incentive.
Participants in our stratified sample matched the UK population closely by region (eight English regions, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), and were evenly matched on age and gender as far as possible with a mean number of 55 children per combination of age in completed months and gender (range 39-68). The sample also attempted to match UK demographics as closely as possible, as follows:
UK families with a child under 5 and only English spoken in the home, non-White 13.7%; our sample 8.46%.
UK families with a child 0-4 where a parent holds a Bachelor's degree or higher 42.6%; our sample 52.2%.
Families in our sample with income below the median for 2012 (data collected 2013-15) 42.9%.
The questionnaire had good measurement properties: the different components (comprehension, production and gesture) correlated well with each other and with age and other biological and social factors that are known to be associated with language development, such as prematurity, low birth weight, first born status and time spent in childcare.
A further phase of the project validated the UK-CDI against lab measures of children's language abilities. Children's gesture when given objects and instructions in the lab correlated with their gesture abilities as reported by their parents. We found that children's language comprehension and gesture measured in the lab corresponded well to children's language and communication abilities as measured on the UK-CDI.
We have also developed a Short CDI, with a total of 120 items chosen to be representative of children's abilities across the age range. This seems to be a very good proxy for the full UK-CDI, with good correlation with full UK-CDI scores.
Summary and conclusions
In summary construction of the UK-CDI and recruitment of a representative sample of parents have been achieved according to our plan. Statistics from the characteristics of the UK-CDI (Words and Gestures) show that the questionnaire is a valid and useful method for assessing infants' language and communication development quickly and easily in a clinical or research setting.
Exploitation Route Our tool will be useful in healthcare, education, and research sectors (primarily in the study of child language and child development) to assess and screen children's early language and communication. Users will be able to compare children to a large standardised sample, and to determine whether a given child is meeting their early language and communication milestones, quickly and easily without the need for lengthy and expensive specialist assessment.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Healthcare
 
Description Contributed to The Communication Trust's response to the Joint Inquiry on Foundation years and UK Government's life chances strategy (The Commons Work and Pensions and Education Select Committees )
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
 
Title The UK-CDI Words and Gestures 
Description A parent report checklist in which parents can record the language and gesture development of their children aged 8 to 18 months. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2014 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Approximately 10 child development labs are using the UK-CDI in their work 
 
Description Campus in the City 2015 - Lancaster 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This engagement event took place in Lancaster town centre and increased local awareness of LuCiD's research taking place at the Lancaster Babylab. Researchers spoke to over 500 people during the two day event.

Following the event, there has been an increase in parents signing up to take part in studies at the Lancaster babylab.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://campusinthecity.com/
 
Description Interview for national newspaper - Westermann 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Provided advice on how to apply for a post doc
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2015/feb/01/applying-for-a-postdoc-job-here-are-...
 
Description Interview on BBC News 24 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Interview by BBC News 24 on how adults talk to children and whether this assists children in vocabulary learning.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Magazine article (Nursery World) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Article in national magazine for nursery practitioners
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.lucid.ac.uk/media/1428/article-1_peter-and-rowland-150615.pdf
 
Description Poster Presentation (BPS Annual Conference) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The BPS funded intern placed within the UK-CDI team presented a poster at the conference about our work. About 20 researchers and psychology practitioners engaged with the poster and/or asked for further information.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description That's Manchester TV Interview - Museum event 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact LuCiD researchers were interviewed for local TV channel, That's Manchester, as part of the Kids Say the Funniest Things event. The news story was shown on the local channel and on their youtube channel. It increased awareness of LuCiD and of child language research more generally.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLw6AwifgkI
 
Description Two day ESRC Social Science Fair event in association with LuCiD 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The event reached 100s of parents and children, teaching them about how we learn to talk, about the role of technology in language development, and increased awareness of language acquisiton research and what it can tell us about language development.

Evaluations from the parents - these are verbatim responses to the question "What was the most interesting thing you learnt?"
How reading with children helps language development
About technology as a tool for learning;
How children learn new words
Generic responses e.g. 'how children learn', 'learnt about language development', 'lots of the information was interesting etc.'
Adults know 60,000 words
How to write name in hieroglyphics
In Canada babies learn to talk 3 months earlier than average
Sound symbolism

About pre-verbal communication
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.lucid.ac.uk/news-and-events/events/free-family-fun-day-at-the-manchester-museum-7-8-novem...
 
Description Up to Speed, Nursery World Article - Rowland & Peter 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Article in national magazine for nursery practitioners. Increase in visitors to our website and social media platforms.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.lucid.ac.uk/media/1428/article-1_peter-and-rowland-150615.pdf