Portrait of Paula Rhyner

Paula M. Rhyner, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-CL, ASH

  • Professor Emerita, Communication Sciences & Disorders

Speaker Topics

  • Language and Emergent Literacy
  • Adult-Child Communicative Interactions
  • Language Assessment and Intervention with Infants, Toddlers, and Preschool Children
  • Cultural Considerations in Child Language Assessment
  • Health Literacy and Speech-language Pathology

Interests & Expertise

Paula Rhyner's research focuses on the effectiveness of various strategies in facilitating language learning in young children with language impairments. Her recent research has examined communicative interactions between adults (parents, teachers, childcare providers) and toddler- and preschool-age children, emphasizing the adults' use of communication strategies that positively and negatively affect language development in young children during activities, such as joint book reading.

The findings of her research on the communicative interactions of toddlers and preschool children with their teachers and child caregivers provide much-needed information on the nature of the communicative interactions during various activities (such as free-play, group circle time, and book reading) and point to the need for collaborating with teachers and child caregivers to ensure that preschool and childcare settings foster language learning in young children.

She also has investigated factors that influence the measurement of receptive and expressive language skills in children and the effectiveness of language screening and assessment approaches with children from culturally diverse populations. Her research in this area has illustrated the limitations in the use of language screening tests in identifying African American kindergarten children in need of a comprehensive language assessment. The findings point to the need to develop language screening tests and assessments that are sensitive to differences in the language of children from culturally diverse backgrounds.

Rhyner's involvement in various interdisciplinary efforts that address the service delivery needs of young children with disabilities and their families has resulted in the funding of major grant projects funded by the Helen Bader Foundation, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program (HWPP) to develop an integrated database system for children with disabilities from birth to three years of age in Milwaukee County. Her collaborations on development of the database system have led to studies in the area of health literacy, particularly with regard to serving children and families in early intervention.

Recent Funded Grants

UW-Milwaukee MCH Interdisciplinary Pipeline Training Initiative (2011 June-2016 May). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Taylor de Oliviera, L., & Moerchen, V. (Co-Directors).

Editorial Boards

  • Member, Editorial Board, Communication Disorders Quarterly (2001-present)
  • Associate Editor, Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools (2000 November-2004 February)
  • Member, Editorial Board, Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools (1989-2000)
  • Editor, Newsletter for the Language Learning and Education Special Interest Division (Division 1) of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (1999-2000)
  • Associate Editor, Newsletter for the Language Learning and Education Special Interest Division (Division 1) of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (1998 August-1999 August)
  • Section Editor for Education, Communication Connection newsletter publication of the Wisconsin-Speech-Language-Hearing Association (1989-1998)
  • Invited Reviewer:
    Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools
    American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
    Topics in Language Disorders
    Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment