Learning by listening to lectures is a challenge for college students with developmental language impairment

Toni C. Becker, Karla K. McGregor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background Increasing numbers of students with developmental language impairment (LI) are pursuing post-secondary education. Objective To determine whether college students with LI find spoken lectures to be a challenging learning context. Method Study participants were college students, 34 with LI and 34 with normal language development (ND). Each took a baseline test of general topic knowledge, watched and listened to a 30 min lecture, and took a posttest on specific information from the lecture. Forty additional college students served as control participants. They completed the tests that covered the lecture information without being exposed to the lectures. Results With baseline performance controlled, students with LI performed more poorly than students with ND on multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank questions that tapped the lecture material. Nevertheless, students with LI out-performed the control participants whose scores were at floor. A self-rating of attention to the lecture predicted learning performance for both study groups; performance on a sentence repetition test, a measure that taps both prior linguistic knowledge and operations in short-term memory, was an additional predictor for participants with LI. Conclusion College students with LI learn less from listening to lectures than other students. Working memory deficits, especially those that reflect weaknesses in the central executive and the episodic buffer, may contribute to the problem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-44
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Communication Disorders
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • LPN and LVN
  • Speech and Hearing


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