Kalli B. Decker

Education

Ph.D., Human Development and Family Studies, Michigan State University, Specialization: Child Development

M.A., Child Development, Michigan State University, 2010

B.S., Family Community Services, Michigan State University, 2008

Areas of Interest

Parent-child communication; effects of child language ability on parent-child interaction; children who are deaf or hard of hearing; infant signing/symbolic gestures; American Sign Language.

Research Focus

I am interested in parent-child communication with all types of dyads, but I am particularly interested in children who have hearing loss (HL) or specific language impairment (SLI). My master’s thesis research focused on the communication choices of parents who have children with HL. I am currently conducting a study of parent-child communication during free play with dyads that include children with SLI.

I am also interested in the use of infant signing with typically developing children. In particular, I am interested in studying how infant signing affects children’s language, social, and cognitive outcomes, as well as their relationships with parents and caregivers.  I am also interested in how and when parents and young children use infant signing, as well as parents’ motivations and strategies for using infant signing.

For my doctoral research, I plan to conduct follow-up studies from my thesis that include interviews with parents of children with HL. Further, I will investigate parent-child communication through direct observation of hearing parents and their children with HL during free play and book reading scenarios.

Role in the IIIW Lab

I am the Lab Coordinator of the IIIW Lab, so I am involved in many of the research projects that are currently underway. I recruit, train, and supervise the undergraduate researchers in the lab. I also create protocols for the data entry, coding, and transcription for many of the IIIW lab projects.

I served as the Project Manager for the Parents’ Communication Choices for the Children survey which I helped to design. I am currently working on a manuscript based on the analysis of the data from this study. I am also the Project Manager for the Parent-Child Interaction with Children with Specific Language Impairment Study, which involves training a team of undergraduate researchers to transcribe parent and child language and use a comprehensive coding scheme for the pragmatic features of parents’ and children’s language during free play.

As part of the Sign Stories Case Study, I completed the data entry for all child infant signing recorded by the child’s parents. I also developed research questions, hypotheses, and ideas for future studies based on this initial case study. I also helped develop the Cross-Cultural Experiences of Infant Signing Survey and I coordinate the data entry for this project. I also trained students to transcribe and code parent and child language that was part of the Parents’ Scaffolding Puzzle Solving Study.  For the Role of Language in Young Children’s Coping Strategies research, I coordinated the transcription and analysis of parents’ and children’s language and I am currently working on a manuscript for this study.

Publications and Presentations

Manuscripts in Progress

Decker, K.B. & Vallotton, C.D. (in preparation). Influences of social bias and parenting values on parents’ communication choices for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. In preparation for American Annals of the Deaf.

Stansbury, K., Vallotton, C.D., Decker, K.B., & Topor, J. (in preparation). The language of self-regulation in toddlerhood. In preparation for Early Childhood Research Quarterly.

Decker, K.B., Skibbe, L.E., Vallotton, C.D., & Justice, L. M. (in preparation). The pragmatic language of mothers and children with specific language impairment during free play and book reading scenarios. In preparation for Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research.

Vallotton, C.D., Decker, K.B., & Fusaro, M. (in preparation). A concrete bridge to abstract representation: A case study of the development of symbolic gestures and words in an enriched gestural environment. In preparation for Journal of Infant Behavior and Development.

Non-Peer Reviewed Publications

Decker, K. B. (2010). Influences on parental decisions regarding communication options for children identified with hearing loss (Unpublished master’s thesis). Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan.

Decker, K. B. (November, 2009). Parents’ communication choices for children who are deaf or hard of hearing and their vulnerability to maltreatment: Information sources and the influence of the media. Proceedings of the Consumer Culture and the Ethical Treatment of Children: Theory, Research and Fair Practice Conference, 166-176.

Conference Presentations

Vallotton, C.D., Decker, K.B., Karsten, A., Topor, J., & Scott, M. (July, 2011). Preverbal pragmatists: The developmental trajectory of preverbal children’s symbolic gestures in enriched gesturing environments. In E. Nicoladis (Chair), Development of children’s symbolic gestures. Poster to be presented at the XII International Congress for the Study of Child Language, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Topor, J.A., Grimm, F., Vallotton, C., Ayoub, C., & Decker, K.B. (April, 2011). The content of speech of maltreated and non-maltreated children during peer interaction. Poster Presented at the Michigan Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, East Lansing, MI.

Decker, K.B., Zientek, A., Bentley, S., & Vallotton, C.D. (April, 2011). Understanding parental communication decisions for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Poster presented at the Bienniel Conference of the Society for Research in Child Development, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Mastergeorge, A., Ayoub, C., Masyn, K., Vallotton, C.D., Decker, K.B., Thompson, D., Su, C., Saneski, E., Zientek, A., & Scott, M. (April, 2011). Comparison of quantitative methods for measuring effects of parental sensitivity and cognitive stimulation on toddlers’ vocabulary. Poster presented at the Bienniel Conference of the Society for Research in Child Development, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Zientek, A., Topor, J.A., Decker, K.B., Bentley, S., & Vallotton, C.D. (April, 2011). Trajectories of symbolic gesture acquisition and use in infants and toddlers. Poster presented at the Bienniel Conference of the Society for Research in Child Development, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Vallotton, C.D., Fusaro, M., Hayden, J., Decker, K.B., & Gutowski, E. (March, 2011). Parents’ gestures make strategies more handy for children’s puzzle solving. In C. Vallotton (Chair), How adults’ gestures lend a helping hand (and head) in young children’s learning in different domains. Poster presented at the Bienniel Conference of the Society for Research in Child Development, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Vallotton, C.D., Decker, K.B., & Fusaro, M. (March, 2010). A bridge to somewhere: Symbolic gestures as concrete representations that build towards abstract ones. Poster presented at the XVIIth Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies. Baltimore, MD.

Decker, K.B. (November, 2009). Parents’ communication choices for children who are deaf or hard of hearing and their vulnerability to maltreatment: Information sources and the influence of the media. Presented at the Consumer Culture and the Ethical Treatment of Children: Theory, Research and Fair Practice Conference, East Lansing, MI.

Additional Activities and Interests

Kalli is also a research assistant with the Early Language and Literacy Investigations (ELLI) research lab. Kalli collaborates with Dr. Lori Skibbe to study parent-child communication that involves children with specific language impairment.

You can contact Kalli at: deckerk5@msu.edu