Posted on June 30, 2023 by childrenslearninginstitute
A COVID-19 Era Experiment With Children From Diverse Home Language Backgrounds
June 30, 2023
Purpose: The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has prompted changes to child assessment procedures in schools such as the use of face masks by assessors. Research with adults suggests that face masks diminish performance on speech processing and comprehension tasks, yet little is known about how assessor masking affects child performance. Therefore, we asked whether assessor masking impacts children’s performance on a widely used, individually administered oral language assessment and if impacts vary by child home language background.
Method: A total of 96 kindergartners (5–7 years old, n = 45 with a home language other than English) were administered items from the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals Preschool–Second Edition Recalling Sentences subtest under two conditions: with and without the assessor wearing a face mask. Regression analysis was used to determine if children scored significantly lower in the masked condition and if the effect of masking depended on home language background.
Results: Contrary to expectations, we found no evidence that students scored systematically differently in the masked condition. Children with a home language other than English scored lower overall, but masking did not increase the gap in scores by language background.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that children’s performance on oral language measures is not adversely affected by assessor masking and imply that valid measurements of students’ language skills may be obtained in masked conditions. While masking might decrease some of the social determinants of communication (e.g., recognition of emotions), masking in this experiment did not appear to detract from children’s ability to hear and immediately recall verbal information.
Surrain, S., Mesa, M. P., Assel, M. A., & Zucker, T. A. (2023). Does Assessor Masking Affect Kindergartners’ Performance on Oral Language Measures? A COVID-19 Era Experiment With Children From Diverse Home Language Backgrounds. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools. doi:10.1044/2023_LSHSS-22-00197