Associate Professor Mary Alt, PhD, CCC-SLP, is director of the L4: Language, Learning, Literacy, Lexicon Lab. The L4 Lab’s research is centered on answering this question: How do people learn words and the concepts associated with those words? The answers to this question are fundamental to our understanding of language development and disorders of language and learning. Alt’s lab approaches this larger question from three angles: 1) word learning (learning the names of things), 2) concept learning (learning the meanings of the words), and 3) clarifying how learning manifests in people who are bilingual. Her research often integrates these three components, and is extending findings from the lab into clinically-driven research.
Alt’s current funded research is concentrated on examining parameters that lead to the most effective treatment for word learning for toddlers. Other ongoing projects are centered around word learning and working memory, the use of learning theory to inform intervention and instruction for older children and adults, and learning in bilingual children. She is also interested in literacy, the interplay between language and thought, and other issues related to learning.
What’s next for the L4 Lab? Alt is interested in how to apply principles of learning to education - specifically towards improving instruction in math and science. The lab is currently developing studies and grants to allow us to further this work with populations from preschoolers to adults.