Alyson Spitzley

Alyson SpitzleySpeech and Hearing Sciences at Ohio University

Background: Prior to beginning the combined MA-SLP/PhD program at Ohio University, I completed my undergraduate degree at Central Michigan University. While there, I spent time as a student clinician at an autism clinic. This experience developed a great interest in working with children with autism spectrum disorders, and I found specific interest in working with those children who used AAC. This experience, in combination with an interest in psychology and its influence on communication, has led to my current research aimed at identifying methods for improving confidence and an overall willingness to communicate for people who use AAC.

Current Interests: My current research interest focuses on identifying factors that influence confidence, willingness to communicate, and use of AAC systems across situations for individuals who use AAC in addition to identifying effective intervention methods to improve these constructs specifically for children who use AAC. It is known that a language learner’s confidence to communicate influences their overall communicative competence and depends not only on internal factors related to the person, but on external factors related to the situation as well. I am looking to literature in second language acquisition in order to bridge the theoretical backgrounds of second language acquisition and AAC and to guide the development of these interventions.

Dissertation Chair: Dr. John McCarthy

Sample Presentation/Publication and Rationale: Confidence and a Willingness to Communicate: Lessons from a Systematic Review of Second Language Acquisition
This presentation discusses a systematic review completed and presented at ISAAC in 2018. This review identified specific methods used to improve language learners’ confidence and willingness to communicate. The findings of this review have served as a foundation for my current research and have provided guidance in developing interventions for those who use AAC.

Presentation Topic: Effects of a Group Augmentative and Alternative Communication Learning Experience on Willingness to Communicate and Attitudes toward a Computer-Based System: A Pilot Study (PDF)

Discussion: A primary challenge I’ve encountered in this area of research is developing appropriate quantitative measures of psychosocial constructs to use with children who use AAC. Another area of challenge has been in developing an initial direction of intervention that appropriately integrates methods used in second language learning.

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