Child Development and Language Lab
Dr. Spencer is a certified school psychologist, a board
certified behavior analyst, an early childhood special educator, and language
intervention and assessment researcher.
She earned her PhD at Utah State University in Disability Disciplines
with an emphasis on language development. Dr. Spencer has worked with children
with disabilities, their teachers, and their families for 12 years. She
currently serves as the Research Director at the Institute for Human
Development at Northern Arizona University. 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 interdisciplinary relationships.
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
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
2012-2013 Studies /
- Implementation of a multi-tiered intervention
system in Head Start (feasibility/usability)
- Assessment of Story Comprehension (ASC): Validating
a progress monitoring tool that measures preschoolers’ language comprehension
- Systematic review of Evidenced-based Health Promotion Curricula. Funded by the Arizona
Office of Children with Special Heath Care Needs.
- Systematic review of behavioral interventions
for adolescents with autism spectrum disorders
- Development of Spanish Narrative Language Measures for preschoolers.
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.
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.
Spencer, T. D., & Higbee, T. S. (2012). Using script
training and transfer of stimulus control procedures to increase meaningful
language. FOCUS on Autism and Developmental Disabilities. Online First.
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), 119-129.
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.