C. Melanie Schuele PhD

Hearing and Speech Sciences, Special Education, Psychology and Human Development
Office Address
Medical Center East, South Tower
Room / Suite
615-936-5256 (office) or 615-293-4681 (cell)

C. Melanie Schuele (PhD, Child Language Doctoral Program, University of Kansas), the director of the Child and Language Literacy Lab, is a professor in the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences at Vanderbilt University. She has secondary faculty appointments in the Department of Special Education and Psychology and in the Department of Human Development in Vanderbilt’s Peabody College. She is a Portfolio Coach in the School of Medicine.

Dr. Schuele is the director of three Leadership training grants, funded by the Office of Special Education Programs, US Department of Education. These training grants support PhD students who are interested in an academic/research career in which they
(a) advance the evidence base for improving outcomes for children with disabilities,
(b) prepare undergraduate and graduate students for careers in speech-language pathology, and
(c) provide professional development to speech-language pathologists and other educators which leads to improved outcomes for children with disabilities. 
These training grants provide full-funding for PhD students which includes stipend, tuition, research support, and conference travel. 

Project REACH (2022-2027) is a single-university training grant and 5 PhD students are funded on Project REACH.

  • Jane Sommer Eppstein, MS, CCC-SLP
  • Johanna Hearn, MS, CCC-SLP
  • Mackenzie Ligherink, BA (AUD expected May 2024)
  • Meganne Muir, MS, CCC-SLP
  • Adriana Valtierra, MS, CCC-SLP

Project REACH: Research Expertise and Training in Children with Hearing Loss

Project INTERSECT (2023-2028) is a multi-institutional training grant, in collaboration with Texas Christian University and San Diego State University. Each site will train 3 PhD students with cross-university research and professional development activities for the 9 scholars. 

Project INTERSECT: Intersection of Research and Practice in Special Education and Communication Disorders to Train the Next Generation of School-Based SLPs

Project PAL (2023-2028) is a multi-institutional training grant, in collaboration with the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, Knoxville TN. Each site will train 3 PhD students with cross-university research and professional development activities for the 6 scholars. 

PROJECT PAL: Preparing Academic Leaders to Teach, Conduct Research, and Engage in Professional Service to Improve Outcomes for Children with High Need Communication Disorders

With Dr. Alex DaFonte in the Department of Special Education, Dr. Schuele co-directs a personnel preparation grant focused on preparing SLP and SPED graduate students to work with students with intellectual disabilities and/or who are AAC users in school settings.

Within the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, Dr. Schuele serves as the director of the school speech-language pathology specialty track (Master’s SLP Program).

Dr. Schuele is a portfolio coach in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine for medical students in the Medical Innovators Development Program.

Dr. Schuele is a fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.


Clinical Interests

Dr. Schuele is a speech-language pathologist, certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (since 1985) and licensed in the State of Tennessee. Her clinical areas of expertise include preschool and school-age children with language impairment, specifically children often described as having specific language impairment or developmental language disorder. She has expertise in phonological awareness, early literacy, and complex syntax development.

Research Information

Dr. Schuele’s research focuses on the development of complex syntax, early reading skills, and phonological awareness in children with language impairments and typical language learners. Dr. Schuele’s research and graduate student preparation has been funded by the US Department of Education, National Institute of Health-National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation, the Schubert Child Development Center at Case Western Reserve University.  Currently, she Co-Investigator with Dr. James Booth and Dr. David Pozos on a project funded by NIH/NIDCD that explores the reading skills of children with moderate to severe hearing loss, and Project Director of three US Department of Education Leadership Training Grants (PhD students).

Dr. Schuele has published her work in multiple journals including Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics, Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, Education and Early Development, Journal of Deaf Education, and Applied Psycholinguistics. She collaborated from 2001-07 with the West Virginia Department of Education on their WV Phonological Awareness Project, a statewide project to promote phonological awareness instruction in kindergarten and first grade. Dr. Schuele has served the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in several capacities:  Editor (2013) and Associate Editor (2007-09) of Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, Publications Board (2013), Research and Scientific Affairs Committee (2004-10; Chair 2008-10), and Lessons for Success Steering Committee (2008-12).

Current research projects include:

  • the reading skills of children with hearing loss who use ASL as primary mode of communication and/or who use hearing aids [Dr. James Booth, project PI, funded by NIDCD/NIH]
  • development of an instructionally-relevant measure of phonological awareness - Measure of Phonological Awareness (MOPA) [Collaborators: Dr. Hannah Krimm, Dr. Sylvia Liang]
  • adaptation of Sam Books to promote listening comprehension alongside early word decoding in early readers
  • complex syntax intervention for preschoolers