Reviewed by Amy Mindell, M. Ed., Assistive Technology Specialist, The New England Assistive Technology (NEAT) Center at Oak Hill.
Laureate Learning Systems (www.laureatelearning.com) has a long history of providing special educators with comprehensive educational software tools for students with a wide range of special needs. Their latest venture, a three-level syntax training program, QuestionQuest, adds another great tool to a special educator’s toolkit. Designed for a range of students with language disorders (including those with autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities, language-based learning disabilities, low vision, hearing impairments, and also English language learners) QuestionQuest helps students master both understanding and answering questions. The research-based interventions offered in QuestionQuest help train the user in both the syntactic and semantic aspects of many different types of questions (Who, What, Where, Why, With What, and Yes/No). QuestionQuest runs on both the Windows and Macintosh platforms.
Laureate has once again ensured that switch users have full access to their software; all of the activities in QuestionQuest offer a range of scanning options. These include linear, step, and two switch step scanning, with customizable scan delay settings, audio feedback settings, and user initiation options. Direct select users can also select from 27 different cursors, varying in size, color and shape.
Using clear, colorful, and descriptive visual scenes (both as static images and animated clips), each level of QuestionQuest offers three types of activities: The Optimized Intervention Activity, Training by Module/Level, and Testing. As noted in the program materials, using Laureate’s Optimized Intervention technology “the program begins with an assessment to determine where to start training. As the student works, the software continually monitors responses, adjusts the instructional support accordingly, and automatically guides the student through the curriculum. Extensive data collection and built-in reports document student performance and ensure accountability.”
It is important to note that in the more traditional modes (Training by Module/Level and Testing) the program allows the teacher/therapist to select individual modules to work on (i.e. What Introduction, Who/What Subject, or Who/What/Where Exhaustive, among all of the others), as well as the level of difficulty (beginning, intermediate or advanced).
Laureate Learning provides its users with research that underlies the creation of QuestionQuest (http://www.laureatelearning.com/products/descriptions/qquestdesc.html) in a monograph entitled Developing Question Asking and Answering: Theory & Research Based Intervention by Mary Sweig Wilson, Ph.D. (CCC-SLP). Additionally, Laureate cites independent research that demonstrates the effectiveness of QuestionQuest. That coupled with more research and strategies in the QuestionQuest documentation makes the written materials supplied with the program almost as powerful as the comprehensive program itself.
The three levels can be purchased individually ($210 each) or as a bundle ($472 for all three). QuestionQuest will make an extremely comprehensive addition to your educational software toolkit, supplementing and enriching your language curriculum.