The Design and use of early literacy digital materials: What’s new? What’s working?

The Design and use of early literacy digital materials: What’s new? What’s working?

First Author: Adriana Bus -- University of Stavanger
Abstract / Summary: 

Studies of first-generation digital media (books, apps, games) yielded important insights concerning the design and features of interactivity promoting early literacy skills. Reviews, for example, revealed the design pitfall of digital additions that introduce extraneous information, but lacked enough studies to make a clear-cut distinction between problematic and possibly promising interactivity in apps. Building on this work, this set of symposium papers examines efforts to improve and advance interactive designs and affordances in digital materials to increase engagement and deepen children’s early literacy and literary experience. Papers reflect two emerging themes in this growing body of research: effects of specific affordances (e.g., motion; gamification) on learning and usefulness of digital material in instructional interactions. Theories driving digital design and interaction are also discussed.

Symposium Papers: 

E-book Reading in Kindergarten and Story Comprehension Support

First Author/Chair:Ofra Korat -- Bar Ilan University
Additional authors/chairs: 
Merav Tourgeman; Ora Segal-Drori

Purpose: Our purposes were twofold: (1) to examine whether kindergarteners whose teachers receive guidance on how to support children in shared reading of an e-book with story expansions will support children's story comprehension better than kindergarteners whose teachers do not receive such guidance; and (2) to examine whether these two interventions will support children's story comprehension better than children's individual e-book reading with expansions but with no teacher support.
Method: 224 kindergarteners were divided randomly into 4 programs. In program A, teachers received guidance on how to support the children in work with the e-book with expansions; in program B, teachers received general guidance on technology followed by working with the children with the e-book with expansions; in program C children worked independently with the e-book with expansions; in program D, children worked with the e-book without expansions (control). Pre- and post-intervention testing included story comprehension and story retelling. The e-book was read twice, with a total of six times over the course of three weeks.
Results: A clear advantage was found for children whose teachers received specific guidance on e-book reading, followed by children whose teachers read the e-book with the children with expansions but without guidance, followed by children’s independent e-book reading with expansions, with the control group showing the least progress.
Conclusions: The finding expands on previous research regarding the advantage of joint e-book reading and adds teachers' support as an important vehicle for story comprehension and production.

The effect of multimedia on low-income children’s word learning: A theory of synergy

First Author/Chair:Susan B. Neuman -- NYU Steinhardt
Additional authors/chairs: 
Preeti Sumadra

Purpose: Studies suggest that high quality educational media, including print, videos, and e-books, can support vocabulary growth (e.g. Takacs, Swart, & Bus, 2015). However, there is much to learn about how these different media might work together to support vocabulary acquisition. The theory of synergy (Neuman, 2009) proposes that different media used in combination (e.g. print book and a video) can support the development of a more robust understanding of new words than repeated viewing or reading from one medium alone. This study examines this theory, investigating the effects of a mixed-media approach vs. similar media (video or books) on children’s vocabulary growth.
Method: Participants were 140 preschoolers from low-income households. Children were randomly assigned to either a synergy condition (video and print), or the same medium (print book or video) condition, counterbalanced. Nine vocabulary words were embedded and taught within the story. Vocabulary measures were administered as pre- and posttests.
Results: Repeated Measures ANCOVAs revealed significant differences in vocabulary learning between the synergy condition, print book, and video condition for receptive vocabulary, F(2, 131) = 3.56, p = .031. Follow-up receptive vocabulary analyses revealed that the synergy condition had stronger growth than the print book condition, t(105) = 2.79, p = .006.
Conclusions. These results are aligned with the theory of synergy. It suggests that providing similar content through different media may be more beneficial to vocabulary learning than repeated exposures through the same medium.

Potentiating Young Children’s Story Comprehension with High-Quality Digital Storybooks

First Author/Chair:Karen Burstein -- iTether Technologies, Inc
Additional authors/chairs: 
Renee Casbergue; Julie Parrish

Purpose. Reading high-quality children’s literature is essential to narrative comprehension development, a requisite for future reading success. Recent experiments suggest that digital books with multimedia features are more attractive and understandable ensuring that clear narration is tightly aligned with illustrations; children can control reading pace and direction; characters repeat key words and phrases in authentic voices; videography guides/holds children’s attention to critical story features. Hence, we hypothesize that paired reading of high-quality digital storybooks can increase young readers’ narrative comprehension.
Method. In spring semester, 50 diverse kindergarteners, from five classrooms in a low SES primary school were invited to read in pairs, one of two storybooks either in digital or traditional formats, twice. Books were matched on lexile complexity, grade and interest levels, length and multimedia features. Using a crossover design, two-weeks later, children read the second book in the alternate format, twice. After each reading session, students individually completed the Story Retell Procedure for Narrative Comprehension Assessment (Paris & Paris, 2003).
Results. Analysis included a 2 (book) x 2 (format) factor analysis of composite scores. Results yielded a main effect for ‘Format’ (F=6.58, df (1, 97) p=0.01) and no main effect for ‘Book,’ (F=0.357, df (1, 97) (p = 0.55). No interaction was observed.
Conclusions. Preliminary interpretation suggests that narrative comprehension increased after paired reading of high-quality digital books. Use of digital storybooks may augment classroom practices, providing children with additional opportunities to enjoy literature while increasing comprehension skills.

A structured mobile digital learning environment to help parents share picture books with young children

First Author/Chair:Merel de Bondt -- VU Universiteit
Additional authors/chairs: 
Roel van Steensel; Adriana Bus

Purpose. BookTutor is a software program prototype developed to tutor and coach behavioral actions situated in the act of book reading with a young child. It is a digital picture book for the very young with a built-in instruction for parents. This structured mobile digital learning environment helps parents understand, use, and internalize a mental scheme of how to share picture books with young children.
Method. Participants are 49 parents of a child in the age range of 18-36 months. Parents were asked to read daily to their child during a two-week-period. Parents assigned to the experimental group received a tablet offering access to the BookTutor as often as they wished. After the intervention participants were interviewed and observed while sharing a book with their child. Google analytics were used to assess the number of visits to the trainer.
Results. Parents’ view on book sharing changes as a result of BookTutor (e.g., more focus on pleasure and adaptivity). Currently we test effects on the quality of book sharing, targeting: accessibility (parent provides support when needed), quality of help in understanding the story, structure and limit setting, and child’s autonomy (parent lets the child experience his/her own competence).
Conclusions. The prototype design may include the capacity to respond to user needs and to strengthen commitment toward mastering new strategies, thus setting the stage for better learning outcomes for parent and child.

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First Author/Chair:discussant Kathleen Roskos -- John Carroll University
Additional authors/chairs: 
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