Children's Vocabulary Project


​The Children's Vocabulary Project (2017-2022, McGregor PI)
Funding provided by the National Institutes of ​Health

The objective of this project is to discover how children's word learning changes over developmental time. The central hypothesis is that the challenge of word learning at different ages varies with the word-learning sit​uation, the component of the word to be learned, and the development of underl​yi​ng cognitive mechanisms. The project will test this hypothesis by tracking​ children in Iowa as they learn and retain new words over the course of one week during each of four years beginning in​ 1st grade.

Participation ​​Information

The project involves two specific aims:

  • 1) to establish a developmental trajectory of word learning in stronger and weaker learns that determines
    • a) how learning and development vary with the learning situation and
    • b) how learning and development ​vary with the component of the word to be learned.
  • 2) to specify the cognitive mechanisms underlying this developmental trajectory.

The expected contribution is a more nuanced and comprehensive understanding ​of word learning challenges and how these challeng​es change during a crucial developmental period. By addressing ​this issue, this project will ​offer new possibilities for tailoring preventive and therapeutic interventions in light of the child's developmental needs.​​

Who Should Participate?

  • 6- to 7-year-old children:
    • Who are in firs​t grade or in the summer between first and second grade
    • Who speak English only (not bilingual)
  • We are recruiting:
    • Eligible children are English speaking and have trouble learning language.
    • For example, your child may ​have difficulty following directions, expressing thoughts, using complete sentences, using appropriate grammar and learning to read or write.

Sign Up to​ Participate

Call ​(531) 355–5090 or fill out the form​ below:


What Does Participation Require?

Participation includes language testing and computer tasks, all​ designed to be enjoyable for children. Testing results are shared with parents. Children will meet with the research team over the course of the 4 year study.

  • One qualification visit to determine if your child's language profile meets study specifications
  • 3 visits per year for 4 years. These visits will be scheduled during roughly the same two-week period every year.
  • Each visit will last 1-2 hours and will involve brief computer tasks and language testing. All tasks are designed to be engaging for children and participants ​will be given adequate breaks.

Where Will Testing Take Place?

We can see you at our offices in the Boys Town Campus or at the Boys Town National Hospital on N. 30th Street in Omaha, NE. If this is not convenient, we can arrange to meet you ar your home of another preferred site (e.g., library parking lot, community center). Visits are flexible and will be scheduled to fit your family's availability.

Will I be Compensated for My Time?

Yes! Your child will be compensated at the rate of $20 per hour for all visits with a probable compensation of $75 per year and a total likely compensation of $300 over the four years.

Can I Keep My Child's Testing Results?

Children's scores on all language testing will be shared with parents. ​A licensed Speech-Language Pathologist will be available to answer questions and provide feedback regarding your child's language abilities. ​