Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

January 20, 2003

U of G literacy projects receive Centres of Excellence backing

Two University of Guelph research projects aimed at improving children’s reading and language skills received support today from the Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network, one of the country’s Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE).

The Guelph projects, headed by psychology professor Mary Ann Evans and economics professor Robert Swidinsky, are among 46 research projects at 26 Canadian institutions that received more than $2.1 million in funding. The announcement was made in London by Industry Minister Allan Rock and in Guelph by Brenda Chamberlain, MP for Guelph-Wellington.

Evans and Swidinsky received a total of $47,000 for their research projects. Evans is studying how reading with young children can aid in the development of their skills, and Swidinsky will investigate how learning multiple languages can benefit children socially and economically.

“This work should be of interest not only to parents and educators but to policy-makers as well, given Canada’s many language and multicultural programs,” said Swidinsky. He and his team also plan to study whether the economic payoff from learning multiple languages warrants investing in language training.

Evans will be examining the various ways that parents read to their children. There is much more involved in children’s reading development than simply reading to them, she said. “An understanding of orthography — how letters look, are spaced, and can be combined—is a crucial factor in the development of reading and literacy skills. We anticipate that our findings will provide direction to parents, teachers and publishers of children’s books as to how books and literacy activities might best be designed and orchestrated to facilitate the growth of literacy.”

The Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network was formed in March 2001 when it received a four-year, $14.2-million grant from the federal NCE. Located at the University of Western Ontario, the network brings together leading scientists, clinicians, students and educators as well as public and private partners. Its focus is improving and sustaining children’s language and literacy development in Canada.

The NCE program is administered and funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and Canadian Institutes of Health Research, in partnership with Industry Canada.

Prof. Mary Ann Evans
Department of Psychology
(519) 824-4120, Ext. 53080

Prof. Robert Swidinsky
Department of Economics
(519) 824-4120, Ext. 52188

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