James Madison University

NEW COLLEGES FORMED A plan to reorganize the College of Integrated Science and Technology into two colleges took effect July 1, 2012. The new colleges are the College of Health and Behavioral Studies and the College of Integrated Science and Engineering.


Stuttering Research Lab Created at JMU

By: Amanda Rivera
Photos by: Jessie Shipe
Posted: February 16, 2009

PHOTO: Dr. Johnson and research subjectWhat causes stuttering?  The answer is simple-no one knows.  This coming spring, however, will mark the start of a project which hopes to provide more pieces to the puzzle.  As a new assistant professor of the Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) department, as well as the Director of the JMU Stuttering Research Laboratory, Dr. Kia Johnson will lead the project.  Completing her doctoral studies this past May at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, Dr. Johnson’s upcoming research endeavors branch from her work with the Vanderbilt University Developmental Stuttering Project.  She explains, “During that time, I developed an interest in the role emotional development plays in the exacerbation and maintenance of Developmental Stuttering.”   

Used for researching the etiology of stuttering as well as providing a haven for parents to receive a cost-free evaluation of their child’s speech and language competency, the JMU Stuttering Research lab will be home to Dr. Johnson’s project.  While one of the main purposes of the project is to discover the development of emotional processes between children who do stutter and children that do not, the CSD professor also aims toward revealing whether developmental differences contribute to the exacerbation of developmental stuttering in young children.  Dr. Johnson says, “Specifically, emotion regulation - a component of emotional development - has been found to be problematic for young children who stutter, when compared to children who do not stutter.  Thus, a primary goal of the project is to conduct behavioral and physiological studies that can provide further observation of the emotion regulatory processes of young children who stutter.”

PHOTO: Dr. Johnson and research subjectThe population sample for this project will include 3 to 5 year-old children and their parents in the Shenandoah Valley area.  While in the lab, the children will be seen by a certified and state licensed speech-language pathologist, who will conduct a comprehensive speech-language assessment.  The assessment will serve to evaluate the child’s articulation, vocabulary, language and fluency.  To observe their emotional processes, the children will be asked to participate in experimental tasks.  Subjective data will be gathered from the parents, who will complete questionnaires concerning their child’s temperament, in addition to their own.

Despite the extensive research that has already been done in the area of stuttering, Dr. Johnson attests that uncharted territory still lies ahead.  “Although research related to developmental stuttering is considered a longstanding area of interest in the field of speech-language pathology, there are so many questions that remain unanswered,” she says.