Capturing the quantity and location of adult wh-words in the preschool classroom using a sensing tool system

Yagmur Seven, Dwight W. Irvin, Prasanna V. Kothalkar, Satwik Dutta, Jay F. Buzhardt, Beth Rous, John H.L. Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Observational approaches may limit researchers' ability to comprehensively capture preschool classroom conversations, including the use of wh-words. In the current proof-of-concept study, we present descriptive results using an automated speech recognition (ASR) system coupled with location sensors to quantify teachers' wh-words by preschool teachers in the literacy activity areas of a preschool classroom. Data from two children, one is 5.3 years old with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and another is 5 years old without identified disabilities, along with teachers, were analyzed. We found that the ASR system is a viable solution for automatically quantifying the number of adult wh-words during interactions in preschool classrooms at different time points and locations. This paper reports how an ASR model, coupled with location sensors, quantifies the frequency of wh-words between two-time points and between a child with ADHD and a typically developing child. The results provide a proof of concept that an ASR model, including acoustic and language models, can automate the detection of wh-words in preschool teachers’ classroom speech. However, further research with larger and more diverse samples is required to explore the cost and time implications of scaling up across a variety of settings and populations to inform efficient classwide and individualized data-driven instructional practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-177
Number of pages10
JournalEarly Childhood Research Quarterly
StatePublished - Jan 1 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
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  • Automated speech recognition (ASR)
  • Preschool classrooms
  • Ubisense
  • Wh-words

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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