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Texas A&M’s Jorge Gonzalez to kick off COE colloquium

Jorge Gonzalez

The Center for Promoting Research to Practice is hosting its first colloquium of the academic year on Thursday, November 15, when early childhood expert
Jorge Gonzalez of Texas A&M University visits Lehigh.

Gonzalez is recognized as a leader in research on accelerating preschool vocabulary and background knowledge. At Lehigh, he’ll discuss his recent research activities related to Project WORLD (Words of Oral Reading and Language Development), a grant that is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences.

“The preschool years are the most formative time of a child’s educational development,” says Edward Shapiro, director of the CPRP and a professor of school psychology. “Dr. Gonzalez is a researcher on early childhood oral language development and his work is changing the way educators design preschool curriculum that is both practical and innovative.”

Researchers associated with Project WORLD are particularly interested in bridging the vocabulary and comprehension gap that exists for disadvantaged children. WORLD incorporates vocabulary instructional design principles for children who are most vulnerable and in need of intensive and systematic methods to acquire and retain concepts.

Children start school with different levels of language skills, but there are few interventions that specifically target developing comprehension skills among that age group. Gonzalez and his research partners would like to change that. His team is trying to develop a curriculum using evidenced-based practices for language development that incorporates multiple learning contexts (i.e., school and home) and accelerates vocabulary growth through strategic selection of words. The curriculum also broadens children’s knowledge of the world through engagement with narrative and informational text.

His presentation, which will be followed by a conversational Q&A session, is scheduled for this 3:00-4:00 this Thursday, at Room B13 in Iacocca Hall. The College of Education is co-sponsoring the event.

“Gonzalez’s research, particularly the development of vocabulary and the expansion of world knowledge at such an early age, really complements the focus we have here at the Center for Promoting Research to Practice,” says Shapiro. “We’re thrilled to have a rising colleague conducting this kind of exciting work visit us here at Lehigh.”

--Tom Yencho

Posted on Tuesday, November 13, 2007

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