Child Development and Language Lab
In the Child Development and Language Lab, Dr.
Spencer and her team conducts research with young children with disabilities
and children who are at risk of language and reading problems. Families,
teachers and other professionals are often involved in their studies. Researchers
employ high quality experimental designs to determine the effects of innovative
classroom and behavioral interventions and clinical treatments. They develop
and validate practitioner-friendly measurement tools. Dr. Spencer recruits
undergraduate and graduate students from education, psychology, and
communication science to be research assistants and work collaboratively on
projects. Student researchers receive mentorship from Dr. Spencer in both
research and practice and get hands-on experience with children.
Dr. Spencer is a board certified behavior analyst, an early
childhood special educator, and language intervention and assessment
researcher. She earned a PhD at Utah
State University in Disability Disciplines with an emphasis on language
development and a Master’s degree in school psychology. Dr. Spencer has worked
with children with disabilities, their teachers, and their families for 13
years. She currently serves as the Research Director at the Institute for Human
Development at Northern Arizona University (NAU). She is also a Research
Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at NAU. Dr.
Spencer has a broad range of interests and experiences; however, her current
research involves the development and validation of language and literacy
assessment instruments, tiered narrative interventions for children who are at
risk of reading problems, and social communication interventions for children
with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
She writes extensively about evidence-based practice and promotes synergistic
Current Studies /
- Predictive Early Assessment of Reading and
Language (PEARL): Validity, Reliability, and Feasibility
- Validating the Test of Narrative Retell (TNR)
for First, Second, and Third Grade Students
- Examining the Efficacy of a Tier 2 Language Intervention
on the Academic Promotion of Young English Language Learners (ELLs)
- The Effects of a Bilingual Narrative
Intervention on the Spanish and English Language Development of Preschoolers
- Differentiating Between Tier 2 and Tier 3
Candidates at the Beginning of Kindergarten
- Development of a Qualities of Attention
Observation Tool (QAOT) to objectively measure teacher-student interactions
- Modifying Attention Preferences to Increase
Classroom Work Completion
- Systematic Review of Evidenced-based Health Promotion Curricula
- Systematic Review of Behavioral Interventions
for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
Spencer, T. D., Kajian, M., Petersen, D. B., & Bilyk, N.
(2013). Effects of an individualized narrative intervention on children’s
storytelling and comprehension skills. Accepted for publication in Journal of
Spencer, T. D., Petersen, D. B., Slocum, T. A., & Allen,
M. M. (in press). Large group narrative intervention in Head Start classrooms:
Implications for response to intervention. Journal of Early Childhood Research.
Noe, S., Spencer, T. D., Kruse, L., & Goldstein, H.
(2013). Effects of a tier 3 phonological intervention on preschoolers’ emergent
literacy. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education. Online First.
Detrich, R. D., Slocum, T. A., & Spencer, T. D. (2013).
Evidence-based education and best available evidence: Decision-making under
conditions of uncertainty. In B. G., Cook, M. Tankersley, & T. J. Landrum,
(Eds.). Evidence-based practices: Advances in learning and behavioral
disabilities, volume 26 (pp. 21-44). Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing
Spencer, T. D., & Higbee, T. S. (2012). Using script training
and transfer of stimulus control procedures to promote generalization and
spontaneity of language. FOCUS on Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 27(4),
Petersen, D. B., & Spencer, T. D. (2012). The Narrative
Language Measures: Tools for language screening, progress monitoring, and
intervention planning. Perspectives on Language Learning and Education, 19(4),
Spencer, T. D., Detrich, R., & Slocum, T. A. (2012).
Evidence-based practice: A framework for effective decisions. (Special Issue) Education
and Treatment of Children, 35(2), 127-151.
Gardner, A. W., Spencer, T. D., Boelter, E. W., DuBard, M.,
& Jennett, H. K. (2012). A systematic review of brief functional analysis
methodology with typically developing children. (Special Issue) Education and
Treatment of Children, 35(2), 313-332.
Slocum, T. A., Detrich, R., & Spencer, T. D. (2012).
Evaluating the validity of evidence based practice review systems. (Special
Issue) Education and Treatment of Children, 35(2), 201-233.
Slocum, T. A., Spencer, T. D., & Detrich, R. (2012).
Best available evidence: Three complementary approaches. (Special Issue) Education
and Treatment of Children, 35(2), 153-181.
Spencer, E., Spencer, T., Goldstein, H., & Schneider, N.
(2012). Identifying early literacy learning needs: Implications for child
outcome standards and assessment systems. In T. Shanahan & C. J. Lonigan
(Eds.), Early Childhood Literacy: The National Early Literacy Panel and Beyond (pp.45-70).
Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing.
Spencer, T. D., & Slocum, T. A. (2011). Maximizing
conversational independence using script training: Generalizing outside the
research base. EBP Briefs, 6(1), 1-8.
Spencer, T. D., & Slocum, T. A. (2010). The effect of a
narrative intervention on story retelling and personal story generation skills
of preschoolers with risk factors and narrative language delays. Journal of
Early Intervention, 32(3), 178-199.
Watkins, C. L., Slocum, T. A., & Spencer, T. D. (2010). Direct
Instruction: Relevance and applications to behavioral autism treatment. In E.
A. Mayville & J. A. Mulick (Eds.), Behavioral Foundations (pp. 297-319).
Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY: Sloan Publishing.