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Florida State University


Delay in speech and language development affects five to ten percent of preschool-aged children. These delays often continue into the school years, affecting performance in school, and may create psychosocial problems.

Jessie Giglio, whose goal is to become a child psychologist, has taken two semesters of Directed Individual Study (DIS) with Dr. Kathryn Bojczyk, associate professor of Family and Child Sciences, in hopes of gaining knowledge about these troubling language delays. Jessie has completed the Liberal Studies Honors Program, which does not require a major thesis. "But," she says, "DIS opportunities are great ways to gain research experience if you cannot fit a thesis or other document into your schedule."

"To develop a strong foundation in the developmental aspects of human life, as well as the psychological background needed to pursue a career as a clinician," Jessie is carrying a double major—Child Development and Psychology. "It's interesting when I can take information from Child Development, which looks at the entire lifespan, including social, physical, and psychological development, and apply it to some aspect of Psychology. All of this is important when discussing mental disorders that may arise at any point in life."

In Jessie's first DIS, she examined how parental behaviors during shared book reading, such as asking questions, affected the child's early literacy, as measured against the standardized Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test.

This semester Jessie is involved in Project ILIAD (Independent Lexical Instruction and Development), an early intervention program of vocabulary instruction developed at FSU by Dr. Howard Goldstein, chair of the Communication Disorders department. The project involves daily vocabulary lessons to supplement ongoing classroom instruction. Children from elementary schools in high poverty areas of Tallahassee are given headphones and sent to a "listening center" for 15- to 20-minute taped interactive lessons. Working with Dr. Bojczyk, Jessie is assessing the effect these listening centers have on the children's vocabulary.

Having only joined the project in January, Jessie says the children are already making gains. "It's exciting to see children, who are at risk due to their environment and/or genetics, succeed and break the cycle of poverty that surrounds them."

Because of her diligence, the strength of her curriculum, and the perfect 4.0 GPA maintained throughout her undergraduate career, Jessie was recently honored with the Outstanding Senior Scholar Award.

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