Dr Gwendalyn Webb

Dr Gwendalyn Webb

Lecturer

School of Humanities and Social Science

Supporting children’s communication development

Speech pathologist Dr Gwendalyn Webb is doing research that empowers parents, carers and communities to better support young children’s communications development in the early years before school.

Image of Gwendalyn Webb

With over 20 years clinical experience working as a Speech Pathologist, Dr Gwendalyn Webb’s research is grounded in clinical practice. Her research focus lies in helping families to support their children’s early communication skills so that they start school ready to learn.

“We know that early intervention for speech pathology issues in the preschool years is incredibly effective in improving children’s trajectory long term,” Dr Webb said. “Children’s early language and communication opportunities impact on their later literacy, academic pathways and later life opportunities.”

Dr Webb has a special interest in supporting children from both disadvantaged and culturally diverse backgrounds and those with disabilities to develop their communication skills.

“Often these children are from marginalised communities and there are many risk factors that can affect their communication development. As such, I work closely with other allied health professionals in a coordinated approach to ensure long term effective progress for the children,” Dr Webb said.

Early intervention for Indigenous children’s speech development

Working with Indigenous children through local playgroups is one of Webb’s recent projects which came about after consultations with local Aboriginal medical and early childhood services revealed a need for proactive education of families to prevent later communication difficulties in Aboriginal children.

“Australian Aboriginal children are at increased risk of language and literacy delays compared to their non-Aboriginal peers. This project aims to provide families and carers of Aboriginal infants, who attend the local Aboriginal community controlled play group, with stimulation strategies to support their children’s early communication and language development.”

The project creates an on-going and sustainable impact by building the capacity of the playgroup staff and carers to carry on sharing the communication strategies with parents once the project is complete.

“I love witnessing people becoming empowered to take control and make decisions that support children’s learning and opportunities. Making the connections and building relationships with families and carers is the most fulfilling part of the work for me.

Seeing the impact of my work in terms of how the educators are taking on their roles and providing the kids with what they need is also very motivating,” Webb commented.

Webb says that early intervention underpins development in the areas of social-emotional, interaction and communication skills and other domains and these skills are relevant for children’s success at school and later in life.

“What’s unique about Indigenous children is they are growing up in circumstances where they are often learning two or more languages or dialects, and they need to learn how to use them in the relevant context.”

“They need to learn the language of their home community so they can be included and develop strong cultural connections and they also learn the language of the mainstream context so they can achieve at school. Cultural context needs to be considered because Aboriginal children might commence school using different ways of communicating,” she said.

“Adjusting to the culture of the school classroom can take some time because the children may have had less exposure to mainstream educational settings. It can take them a little while to learn how to communicate at school. Often for those starting school that’s a whole lot of new learning and also at the same time they’re expected to be learning curriculum content, so there’s an extra layer of learning for this group that is not always acknowledged,” Webb observed.

The effect of cultural match on communication

Dr Webb has also looked into children’s interactions with educators who were of the same or different culture from that of the children. The research investigated the effect of cultural context on the children’s communication and the quality of their interactions in one preschool.

Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal educators were video-recorded interacting with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children in an early childhood education and care setting. The interactions between the children and their educators were categorised according to whether the culture of the educator matched that of the child (cultural match), or not (cultural non-match).

Webb analysed the children’s communication across a variety of linguistic measures.

“We found that if the children’s culture matched that of their educator they had increased lexical density, which means they were using a greater variety of word roots, and exploring more vocabulary in these interactions,” she said.

“We know if children have well developed language prior to starting school this has a positive impact on their learning and they tend to acquire literacy skills more easily if they start with strong skills in language and vocabulary. We can use the findings  from this research to maximise children’s opportunities at a preschool level to develop their communications skills so they start school ready to learn.”

The following journal article resulted from the project. ‘Interactions between children and their early childhood educators: The effect of cultural match on communication’.

Image of Gwendalyn Webb

Supporting children’s communication development

Speech pathologist Dr Gwendalyn Webb is doing research that empowers parents, carers and communities to better support young children’s communications development in the early years before school.

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Career Summary

Biography

Gwendalyn is a Certified Practicing Speech Pathologist and a lecturer in the Bachelor of Speech Pathology (Honours) program at the University of Newcastle. Gwendalyn has many years of clinical experience working across the range of practice areas in speech pathology. Her PhD explored the dialect of Australian Aboriginal preschool children in the local area and she has an ongoing interest in working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. Gwendalyn's research interests extend to exploring  speech pathology scope of practice across a variety of areas including inter-cultural communication and inter-disciplinary management of children with disability.


Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Curtin University
  • Master of Arts (Linguistics), University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Applied Science (Speech Pathology), University of Sydney

Keywords

  • Australian Aboriginal
  • disability
  • early childhood
  • intercultural communication
  • speech pathology

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
111701 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health 25
110399 Clinical Sciences not elsewhere classified 50
209999 Language, Communication and Culture not elsewhere classified 25

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Lecturer University of Newcastle
School of Humanities and Social Science
Australia
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Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.


Journal article (8 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2020 Webb G, Williams C, 'A description of young children's use of Australian Aboriginal English dialect in a regional area', INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGY, (2020)
DOI 10.1080/17549507.2020.1732465
2019 Webb G, Williams C, 'Interactions between children and their early childhood educators: The effect of cultural match on communication', Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 44 48-62 (2019) [C1]
DOI 10.1177/1836939119841471
2018 Webb GL, Williams CJ, 'Factors affecting language and literacy development in Australian Aboriginal children: Considering dialect, culture and health', Journal of Early Childhood Research, 16 104-116 (2018) [C1]

© 2017, © The Author(s) 2017. Australian Aboriginal children, in general, lag behind their mainstream peers in measures of literacy. This article discusses some of the complex and... [more]

© 2017, © The Author(s) 2017. Australian Aboriginal children, in general, lag behind their mainstream peers in measures of literacy. This article discusses some of the complex and interconnected factors that impact Aboriginal children¿s early language and literacy development. Poor health and historically negative socio-political factors are known influences on Aboriginal children¿s participation and achievement in education. Cultural and dialectal differences are also considered in this article for the effect these variables may have on children¿s learning, in terms of both the child¿s ability to code-shift between dialects and the development of the educator¿child relationship. The importance of this relationship is discussed, partly because of the valuable communicative interactions that are involved. These educator¿child interactions allow children an opportunity to extend their oral language skills, which are essential precursors to literacy development. This discussion concludes with some suggestions for further research.

DOI 10.1177/1476718X17693417
Citations Scopus - 7Web of Science - 6
2018 Hopf S, Walker T, Carkeet D, Perera S, Khatri T, Walters J, Webb G, 'Building communication capacity: Letters from Fiji', ASHA. Supplement, ASHA KIRAN 17-23 (2018)
Co-authors Joanne Walters
2017 Webb GL, Hewat S, Walters J, Wenger T, Laurence A, 'NUSpeech A model for international clinical placements in speech-language pathology.', Journal of Clinical Practice in Speech-Language, 19 157-162 (2017) [C1]
Co-authors Sally Hewat, Joanne Walters
2017 Webb GL, Williams C, 'Educators and carers perceptions of Aboriginal children s communication and emergent literacy development.', Journal of Clinical Practice in Speech-Language Pathology, 19 35-39 (2017)
2015 Mathisen B, Carey LB, Carey-Sargeant CL, Webb G, Millar C, Krikheli L, 'Religion, Spirituality and Speech-Language Pathology: A Viewpoint for Ensuring Patient-Centred Holistic Care', Journal of Religion and Health, 54 2309-2323 (2015) [C1]
DOI 10.1007/s10943-015-0001-1
Citations Web of Science - 8
2012 Webb GL, 'Strategies to enhance effective service delivery for Aboriginal people.', Journal of Clinical Practice in Speech-Language Pathology, 14 31-32 (2012)
Show 5 more journal articles

Conference (17 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2019 Webb G, 'Evidence based practice for Early Intervention with Australian Aboriginal children and families.', Evidence based practice for Early Intervention with Australian Aboriginal children and families., Sydney, Australia (2019)
2019 Webb G, Williams C, Beckett E, 'Engaging in research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: the back story.', Brisbane, Australia (2019)
2019 Unicomb R, Walters J, Hewat S, Spencer E, Webb G, 'Scaffolding for student success in learning (3SL): A framework for teaching and learning in speech pathology', Brisbane, Australia (2019)
Co-authors Liz Spencer, Joanne Walters, Sally Hewat, Rachael Unicomb
2018 Webb GL, Walters J, Cranney E, 'Perspectives of speech pathologists on the speech characteristics of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder', Perspectives of speech pathologists on the speech characteristics of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Adelaide, SA (2018)
Co-authors Joanne Walters
2018 Webb GL, Laird S, Tighe J, 'Aboriginal English in early childhood: Respecting children s right to communicate in community dialect and develop their skills in supportive contexts', Sydney (2018)
2018 Webb GL, Walker T, Yee C, 'Engaging with AAC in Fiji', Gold Coast, Australia (2018)
2017 Webb GL, Williams C, Tighe J, 'Perceptions of educators and carers about Aboriginal children s communicative competency', Perceptions of educators and carers about Aboriginal children s communicative competency, Sydney (2017)
2017 Webb GL, Williams C, Tighe J, 'Interactions in early childhood: Topics of conversation in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal contexts', Sydney, Australia (2017)
2017 Walters J, Webb G, Hopf S, Hewat S, Byrne N, O'Toole G, 'Speech pathology clinical placements in Fiji', Speech pathology clinical placements in Fiji, Sydney ICCC (2017)
Co-authors Sally Hewat, Gjyn Otoole, Joanne Walters
2016 Webb GL, Williams C, 'Strategies used by educators for teaching Aboriginal children language and literacy', University of Newcastle (2016)
2016 Crowell J, Byrne N, Webb G, 'Caseworker and case manager perceptions of speech pathology services for children in out of home care', Newcastle, Australia (2016)
2015 Webb GL, Williams C, 'Aboriginal English in the Newcastle area: What can we expect to hear?', University of Newcastle (2015)
2014 Webb GL, Sargison H, Williams C, 'Stories from the Field', Melbourne, Vic. (2014)
2014 Webb GL, Williams C, 'Processes involved in choosing appropriate research questions to explore the dialect, interactions and literacy development of Aboriginal preschool children.', University of Newcastle (2014)
2013 Webb GL, Williams C, 'Exploring Aboriginal dialectal differences among preschool children in the Hunter Valley.' (2013)
2012 Webb GL, Carey-Sargeant C, Carey LB, Mathisen B, 'Holisitc Professional Practice: Speech Language Pathology and Spirituality', St. Louis University, Missouri, United States (2012)
2004 Webb GL, 'Which Language are you Speaking: Jargon and Terminology in Teaching and Speech Pathology', 2004 IALP Congress Proceedings, Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, QLD (2004) [E1]
Show 14 more conferences
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants 6
Total funding $27,767

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.


20202 grants / $6,490

Exploring current and recent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students' experiences on clinical placement in social work and speech pathology$5,000

Funding body: Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle

Funding body Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle
Project Team

Dr Gwendalyn Webb (Lead), Mr Phillip Pallas, Ms Joanne Walters and Miss Rhyann Roberts

Scheme Strategic Network and Pilot Project Grants Scheme
Role Lead
Funding Start 2020
Funding Finish 2020
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

Speech Pathology Australia National Conference, Darwin, 24 - 27 May 2020$1,490

Funding body: Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle

Funding body Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle
Scheme FEDUA Conference Travel Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2020
Funding Finish 2020
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

20192 grants / $15,410

Developing the speech pathology research network through measuring and building impact, and engagement capacity in the University of Newcastle's speech pathology clinics$14,725

Funding body: Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle

Funding body Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle
Project Team

Dr Rachael Unicomb (Lead), Dr Joanne Walters, Dr Sally Hewat, Dr Elizabeth Spencer, Dr Gwendalyn Webb

Scheme Strategic Network and Pilot Project Grants Scheme
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2019
Funding Finish 2019
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

International Society of Early Intervention, Sydney, 25-28 June, 2019$685

Funding body: Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle

Funding body Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle
Scheme FEDUA Conference Travel Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2019
Funding Finish 2019
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

20182 grants / $5,867

Faculty of Education and Arts New Start Grant$5,000

Supporting families of Aboriginal infants to maximise their children's communication development.

Funding body: Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle

Funding body Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle
Scheme New Start Grants
Role Lead
Funding Start 2018
Funding Finish 2019
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

Early Childhood Australia National Conference, Sydney, 19 - 22 September, 2018$867

Funding body: Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle

Funding body Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle
Scheme FEDUA Conference Travel Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2018
Funding Finish 2018
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N
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Research Supervision

Number of supervisions

Completed0
Current4

Current Supervision

Commenced Level of Study Research Title Program Supervisor Type
2020 Masters Comparing the Utility and Effectiveness of Three Distinct Pedagogical Approaches for Developing Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS) In Children; Bothmer Gymnastics, Linear, and a Games Centred Approach (GCA) for Fundamental Movement Skill Acquisition and Improving Cognitive Outcomes in Children M Philosophy (Education), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
2020 PhD The use of Myofunctional Therapy and Devices in Speech Pathology Treatment of Voice, Breathing and Swallowing. PhD (Speech Pathology), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
2018 Masters New Graduate Speech Language Pathologists Working in Vulnerable and Underserved Communities: Exploring Their Professional Development Needs and Methods to Support the Progression of Their Clinical and Professional Competencies M Philosophy(Speech Pathology), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
2017 PhD Impact of Aboriginal English on Teacher Experience and Student Achievement in Secondary Science Classes PhD (Education), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
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Dr Gwendalyn Webb

Position

Lecturer
School of Humanities and Social Science
Faculty of Education and Arts

Contact Details

Email gwendalyn.webb@newcastle.edu.au
Phone (02) 49215694

Office

Room SR144
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