Advancing data collection for the behavioural sciences: the practicability of LENA

Year of award: 2015


  • Dr Sophie von Stumm

    Goldsmiths, University of London

Project summary

In the behavioural sciences, conventional assessment methods, such as questionnaires and lab-based observations, produce data of limited reliability and validity, which can weaken studies on childhood development.

To overcome these limitations, I will use LENA, an audio-recording system that registers speech and sound environments of children and families for up to 16 hours. This unobtrusive method of observation could provide an unprecedented wealth of behavioural data on childhood development, including markers of language ability and other individual characteristics, such as temperament, family routines, patterns and environmental factors. My aims are to: test the practicability of LENA for collecting behavioural data from 100 children and their families; identify behavioural and environmental variables that can be reliably extracted from LENA recordings,and validate variables extracted from audio recordings against data obtained through traditional methods, such as questionnaires and testing booklets.

My findings will build the evidence base for a future grant bid for a longitudinal, genetically-sensitive cohort study on childhood development using audio recordings for repeated assessments.