Projects
Project
Multilingual voices in STEM education (Multi-STEM) 01.06.2021 to 31.05.2027
General project description

The aim of Multi-STEM is to understand how multilingual strategies can promote migrant children’s STEM participation in and across formal, non-formal and informal learning settings involving different actors such as teaching professionals, other educational professionals working in, for example, science centres, and caregivers in the home environment such as parents and extended family.

Multi-STEM is a consortium that includes Utrecht University, HU University of Applied Sciences, iPabo Amsterdam, CPS onderwijsontwikkeling en advies, Expertis, Expertisecentrum Nederlands, Malmö University, Stichting Leerplanontwikkeling SLO, Platform Talent voor Technologie, NEMO, Museon, Teylers Museum, Spaarnesant, Voila, Wereldkidz, Zonova, Lund University Dept. of Clinical Sciences, Taal doet meer, It’s my child, Al-Amal, Joury, IOT, SARDES, Vereniging voor Science Centers, Lowan, NVORWO, SPRONG consortium, Wetenschapsknooppunt Universiteit Utrecht, gemeente Den Haag, Defence for Children 

Role
Project Leader & Supervisor
Funding
NWO grant NWA-ORC
External project members
  • Jantien Smit (HU)
  • Maaike Hajer (HU)
  • Ronald Keijzer (iPabo)
Project
Children and Language Mixing: developmental, psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic aspects (CALM) 01.12.2020 to 30.11.2025
General project description

Many bilinguals combine or mix languages when they speak. We aim to find out if children have difficulties learning language from mixed sources, how and why children mix, and if language mixing is different for children with and without a Developmental Language Disorder. You can read more about this research project via https://www.uu.nl/en/research/calm.

Role
PhD Supervisor & Project Leader
Funding
NWO grant NWO Vici
Completed Projects
Project
A longitudinal investigation into early brain and cognitive predictors of later language outcomes in children born extremely preterm 15.01.2021 to 31.10.2022
General project description

Globally, 10.6% of births worldwide are preterm (<37 weeks of gestation) (Chawanpaiboon et al., 2019), which accounts for 15 million preterm births per year. Preterm born neonates are at risk for short-term and long-term morbidities (e.g., Onofrio et al., 2013; Teune et al., 2011) following disruptions in brain development (e.g., de Kievit et al., 2012; Kwon et al., 2016; Salvan et al., 2017; Woodward et al., 2012). The current project focuses on the language skills of children born preterm. Language is an important and multidimensional higher-order function that relies on the interaction between environmental factors and child-internal processes, such as gene expression, synapse formation, and cognitive mechanisms. Proper brain development early in life is highly important for successful language acquisition (DoY hub ‘1001 critical days’, 2017). Unsurprisingly, many preterm children experience persistent language difficulties (Barre et al., 2011; Van Noort-Van der Spek et al., 2012; Vandormael et al., 2018; Zimmerman, 2017).

Weak language skills impact on subsequent development in other domains with consequences far beyond language. For example, language is crucial for children’s academic and socioemotional development, for successful relationships with family and peers, overall health, wellbeing and work (e.g., Bleses et al., 2016; Longobardi et al., 2016). A better understanding of the language profile of preterm children as well as early precursors of, and mechanisms underlying their language difficulties is therefore necessary. In this project, we will analyze data from a large cohort of extremely preterm children (<28 weeks of gestation) who have been followed from birth until 8.5 years of age. 

Role
Researcher
Funding
Utrecht University Dynamics of Youth Invigoration Grant
External project members
  • dr. Martijn van den Heuvel; dr. Jeroen Dudink; prof. dr. Manon Benders
Project
A longitudinal investigation into early brain and cognitive predictors of later language outcomes in children born extremely preterm 15.01.2021 to 31.10.2022
General project description

Globally, 10.6% of births worldwide are preterm (<37 weeks of gestation) (Chawanpaiboon et al., 2019), which accounts for 15 million preterm births per year. Preterm born neonates are at risk for short-term and long-term morbidities (e.g., Onofrio et al., 2013; Teune et al., 2011) following disruptions in brain development (e.g., de Kievit et al., 2012; Kwon et al., 2016; Salvan et al., 2017; Woodward et al., 2012). The current project focuses on the language skills of children born preterm. Language is an important and multidimensional higher-order function that relies on the interaction between environmental factors and child-internal processes, such as gene expression, synapse formation, and cognitive mechanisms. Proper brain development early in life is highly important for successful language acquisition (DoY hub ‘1001 critical days’, 2017). Unsurprisingly, many preterm children experience persistent language difficulties (Barre et al., 2011; Van Noort-Van der Spek et al., 2012; Vandormael et al., 2018; Zimmerman, 2017).

Weak language skills impact on subsequent development in other domains with consequences far beyond language. For example, language is crucial for children’s academic and socioemotional development, for successful relationships with family and peers, overall health, wellbeing and work (e.g., Bleses et al., 2016; Longobardi et al., 2016). A better understanding of the language profile of preterm children as well as early precursors of, and mechanisms underlying their language difficulties is therefore necessary. In this project, we will analyze data from a large cohort of extremely preterm children (<28 weeks of gestation) who have been followed from birth until 8.5 years of age. 

Role
Project Leader & Researcher
Funding
Utrecht University Dynamics of Youth Invigoration Grant
External project members
  • dr. Martijn van den Heuvel; dr. Jeroen Dudink; prof. dr. Manon Benders
Project
Litmus language tests for multilingual children 02.03.2020 to 31.07.2021
General project description

Currently, many multilingual children are misdiagnosed. To improve this situation, LITMUS language assessment tests have been developed as part of the COST Action IS0804 - Language Impairment in a Multilingual Society: Linguistic patterns and the road to assessment. In this usability study an online environment will be developed and adapted in collaboration with speech language therapists to make the LITMUS tests available and accessible for speech-language therapists in the Netherlands.

Role
Project Leader
Funding
Utrecht University K.F. Heinfonds, DoY Public Engagement Fonds, DoY 1001 Critical Days
Project
The building blocks of cognition: core debates in infancy research 01.08.2019 to 30.06.2021
General project description

Infant cognition is a flourishing and respected field of inquiry, but its practitioners agree that a large share of experiments are underpowered and that replicability is a serious issue (Frank et al., 2017). A consortium consisting of all four babylabs in the Dutch Baby Brain and Cognition Network will replicate two exemplary studies, each fundamental to the core debates in the field. The algebraic rule learning study reported in Science by Marcus, Vijaya, Bandi and Vishton (1999) plays a key role in the debate on (innate) learning mechanisms involved in language acquisition, and whether these are human- and language-specific, while the study on cognitive gains of bilingualism, reported in PNAS by Kovács and Mehler (2004) is of fundamental importance in the debate on whether bilingualism has a positive influence on cognitive flexibility. By replicating each study in all four labs, we will improve statistical power of the studies, and test the robustness of the original results when the experiments are performed in different labs. In our data analyses, we will depart from the traditional frequentist methods used in the original studies. Specifically, a Bayesian sequential testing approach will be used in order to determine when enough evidence is gathered to evaluate the original findings. This approach also allows us to quantify evidence for the null hypothesis in case we cannot replicate the results of the original studies. Summarizing, by increasing statistical power, the aim of the current project - led by the Dutch Baby Brain and Cognition Network - is to solidify the results of two infant studies addressing fundamental questions concerning human cognition and its ontogenesis.

Role
Project Leader & Supervisor
Funding
NWO grant NWO Replicatiestudies (https://www.nwo.nl/projecten/40118044-0), hoofdaanvrager: Prof. dr. C.C. Levelt
External project members
  • Prof. Dr. C. C. Levelt (hoofd aanvrager)
  • S. Spit MPhil
  • A. Geambasu MA
  • Prof. Dr. P. Fikkert
  • Prof. Dr. S. Hunnius
  • Dr. J. Verhagen
  • Dr. I. Visser
Project
Language abilities of children who are refugees from Syria 03.09.2018 to 31.12.2020
General project description

In order to fully participate in Dutch society, refugee children need to achieve fluent language skills in the relevant official or majority language, which is Dutch in the context of the present study. At the same time, maintenance and development of the L1 (first language) is key to family and community relationships, and may confer cognitive advantages. Thus, it is important for refugee children to develop language skills in both of their languages. The aim of this project is to investigate the language skills of children who are Syrian refugees in Arabic (L1) and Dutch (L2). The project involves collaboration with researchers in Canada at the University of Alberta.

Role
Project Leader
Funding
NWO grant NWO Aspasia
Project
1001 Critical Days 01.12.2017 to 01.12.2020
General project description

The first 1001 days of a child’s life, from conception to the age of two, are of vital importance for the development of our complex brain. The brain structure (e.g. different cell types, connections between brain regions) is formed, which will determine a range of skills and cognitive abilities of the child later in life. This project will focus on language development, as an example of an important skill that is dependent on proper brain development. How do stimuli in the first 1001 days influence language acquisition (and disorders)? 

Role
Researcher
Funding
Utrecht University Dynamics of Youth
External project members
  • Prof. dr. Jeroen Pasterkamp
  • Dr. Corrette Wierenga
Project
Bilingualism & Creativity: Towards a situated-embodied cognition approach 01.09.2015 to 31.08.2021
General project description

Although creativity has been increasingly studied, many studies focus on creativity as a stable, individual characteristic. Since evidence indicates that creativity can be different across situations, we advocate a situated-embodied cognition point of view. Creativity can be defined as the emerging skill of an individual to discover complex affordances, in which several action possibilities are combined. This could lead to discovering and applying novel uses of objects, ideas, and solutions. In this research project, we explore how monolingual and bilingual primary school children make use of their surroundings in a visual version of the Alternative Uses Task. Eye-movements are measured to investigate identify gaze patterns. The aim of the project is to gain insight in how creativity arises.

Role
Supervisor
Funding
Utrecht University
External project members
  • prof. dr. Evelyn Kroesbergen
Project
Linguistic Aspects of Texting and its Impact on Cognitive and Social Development 01.06.2014 to 01.12.2015
General project description

In this project, language use in SMS or app messages of children with and without Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) between ages 10 and 12 years is investigated. The aim is to determine the influence of chat-language on children's cognitive development (i.e.g, attention and working memory) and to explore whether and how chat-language can support the social development of children with DLD.

Role
Project Leader
Funding
Utrecht University Dynamics of Youth
Project members UU
External project members
  • Dr. Nada Vasic
  • Chantal van Dijk MA
  • Merel van Witteloostuijn MA
Project
Cognitive development of bilingual dialect-speaking children in Limburg 01.01.2014 to 01.01.2016
Role
Researcher
Funding
External funding Road veur ‘t Limburgs, SWOL /Chair Language Culture in Limburg of Leonie Cornips (University Maastricht)
External project members
  • Prof. dr. Leonie Cornips
  • Kirsten van den Heuij MA
Project
Cognitive effects and the character of Frisian-Dutch bilingualism 01.05.2013 to 29.04.2017
Role
Co-promotor
Funding
External funding University Campus Frysl&#226;n (UCF)
External project members
  • Prof. dr. Arjen Versloot
  • Dr. Eric Hoekstra
  • Dr. Evelyn Bosma
Project
A study of a bilingual Portuguese-Dutch minimal triplet 01.01.2012 to 01.01.2014
Role
Project Leader
Funding
Utrecht University University of Amsterdam Brain and Cognition
External project members
  • Dr. Nada Vasic
  • Merel Maslowksi MA
Project
A cross-context study of early language skills of immigrant children in Canada and the Netherlands 01.06.2009 to 01.06.2012
Role
Project Leader & Researcher
Funding
EU grant Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship
Project
Early grammatical development of bilingual children: Input quantity and structural transparency 01.06.2008 to 31.05.2009
Role
Project Leader & Researcher
Funding
External funding Niels Stensen Fellowship
Project
When agreement doesn't agree: the production and processing of grammatical morphemes by L2 children and children with Specific Language Impairment 01.04.2008 to 28.08.2012
General project description

In recent literature, it is a major issue whether L2 children's errors in speech production are caused by non-native representations or reflect output problems. The goal of this project is therefore to compare available speech production data of L2 children to data collected in tasks that tap the underlying grammatical system of L2 children in a more direct way than production tasks do. As a means to achieve this goal, L2 children's on-line processing of grammatical and ungrammatical sentences will be measured. The comparison of on-line processing data and off-line production data is not only relevant for theories on L2 acquisition, but it may also provide a way to find differences between L2 children and children diagnosed with Specific Language Impairment (SLI). Since there is still no principled way to distinguish between effects of late onset of systematic exposure to Dutch and language impairment, L2 children are in terms of assessment a problematic group. In order to find differentiating characteristics of non-native patterns caused by late onset and/or language impairment, the Turkish-Dutch L2 children will be compared to age-matched monolingual children and children diagnosed with SLI.

Role
Project Leader
Funding
NWO grant
External project members
  • Prof. dr. Theo Marinis
  • Dr. Vicky Chondrogianni
  • Dr. Nada Vasic
  • Prof. dr. Anne Baker
  • Prof. dr. Fred Weerman
  • Dr. Jan de Jong
Project
Cognitive development in the context of emerging bilingualism: Cultural minority children in the Netherlands to 29.11.2017
General project description

This study investigates relationships between language abilities and cognitive control in bilingual minority children in the Netherlands. The aim is to better understand the cognitive effects of bilingualism and to disentangle effects of bilingualism and Developmental Language Disorder.

Role
Project Leader
Funding
NWO grant NWO Innovational Research Incentive (Vidi)