Increasing early childhood educators’ use of communication-facilitating and language-modelling strategies: Brief speech and language therapy training
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Intensive Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) training courses for Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) can have a positive effect on their use of interaction strategies that support children’s communication skills. The impact of brief SLT training courses is not yet clearly understood. The aims of these two studies were to assess the impact of a brief SLT training course on ECEs’ interaction behaviour, and to explore ECEs’ views and experiences of the course. In Study 1, eight ECEs took part in a multiple-baseline study of a brief SLT training course. Video-recordings of interactions with children were used to evaluate ECEs’ interaction behaviour using the Conversational Responsiveness Assessment and Fidelity Tool. In Study 2, seven ECEs took part in semi-structured interviews about this training course. Template analysis was used to identify key themes. In Study 1, the group of trained ECEs showed a statistically significant increase in their use of one communication-facilitating strategy (using comments to cue turn-taking) and a statistically significant decrease in their use of one conversation-hindering behaviour (asking yes/no, testing or rhetorical questions). Analysis at the individual level showed a modest increase in some ECEs’ use of language-modelling strategies and a more generalized decrease in conversation-hindering behaviours. In Study 2, ECEs more consistently reported learning and using communication-facilitating strategies than language-modelling strategies. ECEs identified several features of the training course that facilitated learning: the practical, interactive nature of the group training sessions, the use of video feedback, and the repetition of key strategies in several training sessions. We conclude that brief SLT training for ECEs can lead to increased use of some interaction strategies that help children’s communication skills develop. Further research is needed to evaluate brief SLT training more thoroughly.