Technology such as smart voice assistants or computer-based intelligent tutoring systems has become crucial to people's private lives, education, and the workforce. This technology is largely based on standard American English and the misconception that there is a single, idealized variety of American English, which conflicts with the true diversity of language users. Many U.S. speakers use a regional variety of American English, African American Vernacular English, a signed language, a language other than English, or have some form of communication disorder. As the U.S. population is becoming older, age-related hearing loss and language impairments will also increase. The linguistic sophistication of technology has not kept pace with the growing linguistic diversity within the U.S. This technology is intended to improve the lives of humans and society at large, and people increasingly depend on it for access to governmental, community, health, and educational services, making the technology's current reliance on standard American English problematic. This National Science Foundation Research Traineeship award to the Pennsylvania State University will educate a new generation of experts in human-technology interactions to address this issue. The project anticipates training 48 graduate students, including 23 funded trainees, from graduate programs in Psychology, German, Spanish, Communication Science and Disorders, Computer Science and Engineering, Information Sciences and Technology, and Learning Design and Technology. The comprehensive two-year traineeships will prepare trainees to address key challenges in human-technology interactions. Improvements in human-technology interactions will help ensure the full participation of individuals with diverse language backgrounds, fostering an equal, diverse, and inclusive society.
By applying integrated learning and transdisciplinary team science principles, trainees will be prepared to bridge the gap between language science and technology. Trainees will also be prepared to think beyond disciplinary boundaries. This approach is considered optimal to prepare the next generation for the future of work. In a two-year program culminating in the new graduate certificate 'Linguistic Diversity and Technology', trainees will complete cross-disciplinary courses and professional development in language and technology. Trainees will work on transdisciplinary team research projects that address tractable goal and produce clear products, such as a design project, pilot application, or research study focused on integrating language science and human-technology interaction. Trainees will also participate in seminars, research events, mentoring, and a linguistic diversity outreach program. They will complete the program with an internship with academic and private sector extramural partners to support careers bridging linguistics and technology, both inside and outside academia, in national and international settings. Trained to work in diverse teams, trainees will be competent in creating knowledge and translating research outcomes into technological solutions that alleviate social, educational, and economic disparities for linguistically diverse populations.
The NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) Program is designed to encourage the development and implementation of bold, new potentially transformative models for STEM graduate education training. The program is dedicated to effective training of STEM graduate students in high priority interdisciplinary or convergent research areas through comprehensive traineeship models that are innovative, evidence-based, and aligned with changing workforce and research needs.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
|Effective start/end date||9/1/21 → 8/31/26|
- National Science Foundation: $2,999,920.00