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Meet our Grant Recipients

Students Present Research at the National Convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Last year graduate students Argelia Furtado ‘10, Christine Whitaker ‘10, Rachel Dilly ‘10 and undergraduate student Irene Duong '09, were awarded Pacific Fund Grants to present their research at the national convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Effects of Visual Conditions on Speech Discrimination
Argelia Furtado ‘10 and Christine Whitaker ‘10 Graduate Students

Argelia Furtado ‘08 with Professor Susca

When Argelia Furtado first enrolled at University of the Pacific, she had high hopes for accomplishing great things. However, she never imagined coming as far as she has. Through the guidance and support she's received from the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and generous support from Pacific Fund Grants she has been able to make her dreams come true.

Launching a research project and the honor of being invited to present that project at the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) in Chicago this past year was more than she ever foresaw in her future when she started this journey. She and her partner, Christine Whitaker, started their research under the guidance of Speech-Language Pathology professor Michael Susca, Ph.D, with only the expectation of gaining experience through its process.

Their study, Effects of Visual Conditions on Speech Discrimination, explored the effects of visual status on speech discrimination. The experiment was conducted on sixty adult participants ranging from 18 to 48 years of age. Each participant was randomly assigned to participate in one of the three conditions: Typical Listening (T), Blind-fold (B), and Visual Distraction (D). Each participant was asked to repeat what they heard after independently listening to a series of semantically anomalous sentences. A one way ANOVA revealed that speech discrimination is affected when an individual is visually distracted.

Furtado says that her experience at ASHA has been one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences during her college career. She had the opportunity to meet speech-language pathologists from many states, shared experiences and learned new and old techniques that will only add to her ever growing cache of knowledge.

The visit also exposed her to the upcoming technologies and software programs that will be available for her use post graduation. "I really got to see how active and rapidly developing speech-language pathology is," said Furtado. "This was very exciting and inspiring to see."

Use of Educational Toys to Improve Pragmatic Skills in Preschoolers
Rachel Dilly ‘10, Graduate Student

As her senior honors project, Rachel Dilly designed an experiment to determine Leapfrog products role in the development of social skills in preschoolers. Her experiment was designed to study the influence that playing Leapfrog games had on the social interactions of typically developing preschool-age children.

Following her initial baseline studies, Dilly studied eighteen preschoolers, who she randomly split into two groups, nine of which comprised the control group that did not get to play with the Leapfrog toys. The parents of the remaining nine children were asked to play Leapfrog games with them for thirty minutes a day, five days a week, over a five-week period. After all of her testing was complete, Dilly concluded that there was no difference between the two groups studied. Consequently, her study could not validate Leapfrog's claim that their toys could improve social skills.

Dilly was invited to present her research at the ASHA Convention in Chicago. Without the support of a Pacific Fund grant that covered her travel costs, Dilly would not have been able to accept the honor. While at the convention Dilly presented her research to approximately 150 people over a 90 minute period.

"I felt it was definitely a learning experience, being able to present to so many people," Dilly said. Her Pacific Fund Grant enabled Dilly to engage with professionals in her area of study, which will better prepare her for her future career.