Lynn Dempsey

Associate Professor, Applied Linguistics
(on sabbatical leave July 1 to Dec. 31, 2023)


PhD (University of Western Ontario)

Office: MC D450K
905-688-5550 x5168

Dr. Dempsey completed her PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Western Ontario (UWO) in 2005. She also has a M.Sc. in Communication Sciences and Disorders (Speech-Language Pathology) from UWO (1999), a BA in Psychology and a BSW from McMaster University in 1996. Dr. Dempsey is a Registered Speech-Language Pathologist (CASLPO) and a member of the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (CASLPA). She has worked with preschool and school-age children at Peel Preschool Speech and Language Services (Ennoak) and the London Speech and Language Centre, and taught graduate courses in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders at UWO. She began a tenure-track appointment at Brock University in 2005.

Dr. Dempsey’s research interests focus primarily on narrative comprehension in preschool age children with and without language impairments. More specifically, she explores the nature of young children’s story representations, the factors that contribute to successful story comprehension in young children, and the relationships between early oral story comprehension and later reading comprehension. Dr. Dempsey is the Director of the Child Language Laboratory and a member of the LifeSpan Development Centre.

Other research interests include:


  • The development of English language narrative comprehension in children learning English as a subsequent language
  • Measurement of young children’s language abilities, particularly measurement of early story comprehension and comprehension monitoring abilities
  • The International Classification of Functioning Disability and Health (World Health Organization) and its application to assessment and treatment of children’s language disorders

Refereed Articles

  • Zupan, B., Dempsey, L. & Hartwell, K. Categorizing emotion words: The influence of response options. Language & Cognition. Advance online publication.
  • Dempsey, L. (2021). Examining the validity of three methods of measuring pre-readers’ knowledge of storybook events. Child Language Teaching & Therapy, 37(2), 137-148.
  • Dempsey, L. (2018). Building pre-readers’ background knowledge: The impact of a play-based event exposure on children’s comprehension of stories read aloud. Early Child Development and Care, 190(9), 1371-1381. https://doi: 10.1080/03004430.2018.1536656.
  • Dempsey, L. (2018). Understanding story read-alouds: The influence of story goal structure and event. knowledge on pre-readers’ inferencing abilities. Early Child Development and Care. Advance online publication, 190(5), 685-697. https://doi: 10.1080/03004430.2018.1488170
  • Dempsey, L. & Skarakis-Doyle, E. (2017). Story comprehension in pre-readers: understanding goal structure and generating inferences when a story has competing goals. Early Child Development and Care, 189(1), 1724-1736. https://doi: 10.1080/03004430.2017.1408610
  • Zupan, B., & Dempsey, L. (2013). Narrative comprehension abilities of children with typical hearing and children using hearing aids: A pilot study. The Volta Review, 113(1), 5-27.
  • Zupan, B., & Dempsey, L. (2013). Facilitating emergent literacy in children with hearing loss. Deafness and Education International. 15(3), 130-148
  • Dempsey, L., & Skarakis-Doyle, E (2010). Developmental language impairment through the lens of the ICF: An integrated account of children’s functioning. Journal of Communication Disorders, 43(5), 424-437.
  • Skarakis-Doyle, E., Campbell, W., & Dempsey, L. (2009). Identification of children with. language impairment: Investigating the classification accuracy of the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory-III (CDI-III). American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 18(3), 277-288.
  • Skarakis-Doyle, E. & Dempsey, L. (2008a). Assessing story comprehension in preschool children. Topics in Language Disorders, 28, 127-144.
  • Skarakis-Doyle, E. & Dempsey, L. (2008b). The detection and monitoring of comprehension errors by preschool children with and without language impairment. Journal of Speech, Language, and. Hearing Research, 51, 1-17.
  • Skarakis-Doyle, E., Dempsey, L., & Lee, C. (2008). Identifying language comprehension impairment in preschool children. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 39, 54-65.
  • Lee, C.J., Skarakis-Doyle, E., & Dempsey, L. (2003). The contributions of activity and occupation to young children’s comprehension of picture books. Journal of Occupational Science, 10(2), 80-83.
  • Dempsey, L. & Skarakis-Doyle, E. (2001). The validity of the Joint Story Retell as a measure of young children’s comprehension of familiar stories. Journal of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, 25(4), 201-211.

Dr. Dempsey has over 30 peer-reviewed presentations (paper & poster) at regional, national, and international conferences including the Symposium for Research in Child Language Disorders (SRCLD), the American Speech Language & Hearing Association (ASHA) Annual Convention, the Speech & Audiology Canada (SAC) Annual Conference, and the Child Language Symposium.

Dr. Dempsey’s teaching at Brock has included:

  • LING 1P92 Introduction to the Psychology of Language
  • LING/CHYS 2P99 Literacy in Childhood & Youth
  • LING/CHYS/PSYC 3P61 Child Language Acquisition – Early Stages
  • LING 3P90 Language Disorders in Children
  • LING 4P20 Evaluation of Speech and Language Disorders
  • LING 4P25 Research Practicum
  • LING 4P99 Honour Tutorial
  • LING 4F01 Honours Thesis

Dr. Dempsey is currently Department Chair (2020-2023) and Interim Director of the Graduate Program (2022-23). She has held various other roles within the department including: Speech Language & Hearing Sciences Certificate Coordinator, Speaker Series Coordinator, and Self-Study Principal Author. She was a member of the Social Sciences Research Ethics Board (SREB) for many years and served a 2-year term as Co-Chair of the SREB (2018-2020). She has been a member of the University’s Undergraduate Program Committee (UPC) and the Faculty of Social Sciences Tenure & Promotion Committee (Chair – 2021-22).