Jennifer Gross

Professor Jennifer Gross

B.A., Oakland University
M.S., Ph.D., Wayne State University
Office: 2319 AuSable Hall
Phone: (616) 331-3511

Lab: GVSU Applied Cognition Lab

Refine your reading skills with the Prosody Training App

Current Semester Schedule


Cognitive, Psycholinguistics/Applied Cognition

Courses Taught

PSY 101 -  Introductory Psychology
PSY 101 -  Honors Introductory Psychology
PSY 357 -  Psychology of Language
PSY 365 -  Cognition
HNR 313 -  Honors Junior Seminar: Language in Cognitive Science

Research Interests

At all ages, prosody sensitivity plays a role in reading abilities.  English has a stress-alternating rhythm that is not explicitly marked in print (Fudge, 1984; Treiman & Kessler, 2005). Fluent readers must infer stress and rhythm when reading silently and aloud.  In 5- and 6-year-olds, prosody sensitivity uniquely predicted reading, after controlling for vocabulary knowledge, phonological awareness, and morphological awareness (Holliman et al., 2017). Third graders’ knowledge of lexical prosody when reading aloud from a typical textbook was a significant predictor of oral reading fluency and good reading comprehension (Schwanenflugel & Benjamin, 2016). In high school students, skill in prosodic production predicted reading comprehension among students matched on decoding ability (Breen, Kaswer, Van Dyke, Krivokapi, & Landi, 2016). Prosodic awareness predicted reading achievement in adult readers (Wade-Woolley & Heggie, 2015). Even after controlling for working memory, prosodic awareness accounted for adults’ word-reading abilities (Chan & Wade-Woolley, 2016). Less fluent readers, and those who learn English as a second language, might benefit from prosody training app that draws a more explicit link between the rhythm in speech and the rhythm in writing.

The prosody training app may cultivate prosody sensitivity.  Our ongoing experiments are evaluating whether beginning readers, struggling readers, or late speakers of English might benefit from marking stress explicitly in written English.  Our app players are asked to judge which of the stylistic alterations to the text (poems; nursery rhymes; lyrics, and prose) is “correct”.  In the match condition, the stylistically-induced emphasis maps onto the stress pulses in the text: PEter, PEter, PUMPkin EATer. HAD a WIFE and COULDn’t KEEP her. PUT her IN a PUMPkin SHELL, and THERE he KEPT her VERy WELL. These stylistic enhancements should exaggerate the rhythm in the ‘inner ear’ of our silent readers, based on my team’s previous work (Gross, Winegard & Plotkowski, 2018; Gross, Millett, Bartek, Bredell, & Winegard, 2014). In contrast, when the stylistically-induced stress pulses do not map onto the beats (e.g., peTER, peTER, pumpKIN eatER. had A wife AND couldN’T keep HER. put HER in A pumpKIN shell, AND there HE kept HER very), silent readers should “hear” the dissonance caused by the meter clashing with the stylistically-induced stress pulses.  English orthography is underspecified with regard to rhythm and stress.  This app transforms ordinary text to rhythmically enhanced text.  Can YOU iMAGine an APP that HELPS you HEAR the RHYTHm of TEXT?

Current Research

Prosody Pup

“Hey, there! I’m Prosody Pup. I’ve set up lessons to help you learn prosody, which is the melody of language. The meaning of a sentence, or even a word, can change based on rhythm.  With my help, you will be a prosody pro in no time!”

Representative Publications

Gross, J., Harmon, M. E., Myers, R. A., Evans, R. L., Kay, N. R., Rodriguez- Charbonier, S., & Herzog, T. R. (2004). Recognition of self among persons with dementia: Picture vs. names as environmental supports. Environment & Behavior, 36(3), 424-454.

Gross, J., Lakey, B., Edinger, K., Orehek, E., & Heffron, D. (2009). Person perception in the college classroom: Accounting for tastes in students’ evaluations of teaching effectiveness. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 39, 1609-1638.

Gross, J., Millett, A.L., Bartek, B., Bredell, K.H., Winegard, B. (2014). Evidence for prosody in reading. Reading Research Quarterly, 49(2), 189-208. doi:10.1002/rrq.67

Gross, J., Lakey, B., Lucas, J. L., & LaCross, R., Plotkowski, A. R., Winegard, B. (2015). Forecasting the student-professor matches that result in unusually effective teaching. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 85, 19-32. DOI:10.1111/bjep.12049

Gross, J., Winegard, B., Plotkowski, A. R., (2018). Marking stress exPLICitly in written English fosters rhythm in the reader’s inner voice. Reading Research Quarterly.


Page last modified August 29, 2018