Novel-Word Learning in Children with Normal Hearing and Hearing Loss

Patricia G. Stelmachowicz, Andrea L. Pittman, Brenda M. Hoover, Dawna E. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Objective: The goal of this study was to assess performance on a novel-word learning task by normal-hearing and hearing-impaired children for words varying in form (noun versus verb), stimulus level (50 versus 60 dB SPL), and number of repetitions (4 versus 6). It was hypothesized that novel-word learning would be significantly poorer in the subjects with hearing loss, would increase with both level and repetition, and would be better for nouns than verbs. Design: Twenty normal-hearing and 11 hearing-impaired children (6 to 9 yr old) participated in this study. Each child viewed a 4-minute animated slide show containing 8 novel words. The effects of hearing status, word form, repetition, and stimulus level were examined systematically. The influence of audibility, word recognition, chronological age, and lexical development also were evaluated. After hearing the story twice, children were asked to identify each word from a set of four pictures. Results: Overall performance was 60% for the normal-hearing children and 41% for the children with hearing loss. Significant predictors of performance were PPVT raw scores, hearing status, stimulus level, and repetitions. The variables age, audibility, word recognition scores, and word form were not significant predictors. Conclusions: Results suggest that a child's ability to learn new words can be predicted from vocabulary size, stimulus level, number of exposures, and hearing status. Further, the sensitivity to presentation level observed in this novel-word learning task suggests that this type of paradigm may be an effective tool for studying various forms of hearing aid signal processing algorithms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-56
Number of pages10
JournalEar and hearing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Speech and Hearing


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