Waisman Center Circle Logo The Waisman Center
Horizontal Rule


Photo of Dr. Chapman

Robin S. Chapman
Ph.D., University of California-Berkeley
Professor Emerita, Communicative Disorders

Contact Information
Waisman Center
UW-Madison
1500 Highland Avenue
Madison, WI 53705
608-263-5820
608-263-0529 (fax) chapman@waisman.wisc.edu
Web:
Language Development Project page

Research Interests

My curre nt research focusses on language and cognitive development in children and adolescents with Down syndrome, with funding from the National Institutes of Health (NICHD) and the National Down Syndrome Society. We have asked how skills of language, visual cognition, and short-term memory come apart in the course of development across a six year span, and how differences in trajectory can be predicted. Do individuals with Down syndrome show a characteristic pattern of divergence of language and cognitive skill? Does language learning slow in adolescence, or with the need to learn complex syntax? What predicts individual variation in language skill? We have learned that expressive language deficits, especially in syntax, are characteristic of Down syndrome and are accompanied by, and predicted by, deficits in both visual and auditory short-term memory. Importantly, however, we have found that language learning continues in adolescence and young adulthood, particularly for expressive syntax; that complex syntax is acquired in those years. Vocabulary comprehension becomes a clear strength for individuals in adolescence, and studies of stories constructed to accompany pictures reveal content of plot, theme, and episodes more consistent with nonverbal cognitive and comprehension skills than individuals' more limited language use. These studies not only suggest important targets for language intervention in adolescence and young adulthood. They also inform our models of typical language development and the ways in which language skills can be said to be modular or interactive (Chapman, 2000).

Ongoing research is also examining the "microgenetic" processes of learning novel words, personal narratives, and story-telling skills across several sessions, and the predictors of variation in this skill drawn from visual short-term memory, auditory short-term memory, and nonword repetition tasks. This works tests the role of question scaffolding in story-telling and auditory memory support in novel word learning.

Horizontal Rule

Representative Publications

Chapman, R.S., Hesketh, L.J., & Kistler, D. (2002). Predicting longitudinal change in language production and comprehension in individuals with Down syndrome: Hierarchical linear modeling. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 45, 902-915.

Chapman, R.S. & Hesketh, L. (2000). The behavioral phenotype of Down syndrome. Me ntal Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Review, 6, 84-95.

Chapman, R. S. (1997). Language development in children and adolescents with Down syndrome. Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Review, 3, 307-312.

Chapman, R., Seung, H-K., Schwartz, S. E., & Kay-Raining Bird, E. (1998). Language skills of children and adolescents with Down syndrome: II. Production deficits. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 41 (4), 861-873.

Chapman, R., Seun g, H-K., Schwartz, S. E., & Kay-Raining Bird, E. (2000). Predicting language production in children and adolescents with Down syndrome: The role of comprehension. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 43, 340-350.

Miles, S. & Chapman, R.S. (2002). Narrative content as described by individuals with Down syndrome and typically developing children. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 45, 175-189.

Thordardottir, E., Chapman, R., & Wagner, L. (2002). Complex sentence produ ction by adolescents with Down syndrome. Applied Psycholinguistics, 24, 163-183.

Click to search National Library of Medicine and PubMed for other publications by Dr. Chapman

Horizontal Rule

by Swiggum