Use of technology in improving literacy outcomes

Use of technology in improving literacy outcomes

First Author: Stephanie Day -- UC Irvine
Additional authors/chairs: 
Jin K. Hwang
Keywords: Technology, Interactive storybook reading, Comprehension, Instruction, Reading
Abstract / Summary: 

The purpose of this symposium is to present recent advancements in the use of technology to improve literacy outcomes in students ranging from preschool up through 8th grade. Three of the studies examine the impact of interactive features of digital books on improving literacy skills, particularly in regards to reading comprehension and vocabulary. These studies consider how affordances of digital reading can be utilized to improve student engagement and literacy outcomes. Another study presents a newly developed classroom observation tool designed to provide detailed information for teachers about the classroom experiences of individual children, specifically the amounts and types of instruction that young students receive and the impact of individualized instruction on literacy outcomes. The final study focuses on an iPad application designed to help dual language learners read for comprehension in English. These studies demonstrate how technology can be utilized to both directly and indirectly improve student reading outcomes.

Symposium Papers: 

Improving elementary students’ reading comprehension using the word knowledge e-book

First Author/Chair:Stephanie Day -- University of California, Irvine
Additional authors/chairs: 
Jin K. Hwang; Carol M. Connor

Purpose: This study examines usability and feasibility of the Word Knowledge e-Book (WKe-Book)— e-books that have been developed for third through fifth-grade students to improve their word knowledge, strategy use, and comprehension monitoring. The targeted comprehension strategies that are embedded in the WKe-Books are 1) summarization, 2) question generation, and 3) word-learning strategies such as use of context clues and morphemic analysis.

Method: Approximately 510 third through fifth-grade classrooms read four different WKe-Books (2 fiction, 1 science, and 1 social studies). Students read each WKe-Book three times a week for approximately 30 minutes. Interventionists led whole-class book clubs at the beginning of each day to teach targeted reading strategies and discuss the stories students have read. Students were tested on their language and literacy skills, comprehension monitoring skills, strategy use, and content knowledge pre- and post-intervention.

Results: Previous results from a pilot study revealed that students who read the WKe-Book and participated in book clubs demonstrated significant growth in their word knowledge. Analysis of student user-logs revealed that the more time students spent reading embedded questions, the more likely they were to answer the questions correctly, which in turn predicted gains in word knowledge. Preliminary analyses reveal that the WKe-books have potential to teach students the targeted reading strategies. Further data collection and analysis are currently in progress.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that the affordances offered by technology, which are unavailable in paper-based books, can support students’ development of reading-related skills, including strategy use and word learning skills.

Reinventing the picture storybook for a new generation of readers: results of Individual Participant Data (IPD) meta-analysis

First Author/Chair:Adriana Bus -- University of Stavanger

Purpose. This meta-analysis focuses on multimedia enhancements in digital books that are studied during the last decennium. Enhancements draw on design principles derived from multimedia learning theory such as temporal contiguity. A virtual camera added to synchronize words with picture may promote learning.

Method. To pinpoint the efficacy of digital books, experiments in this domain followed the logic of a value-added experiment contrasting a version without the new ingredients with versions that include the new ingredients (Mayer, 2014). We combined the data of a series of studies thus far to enable Individual Participant Data Meta-Analysis. The sample includes 10 studies (869 participants) carried out in five different countries: Israel (2X), Hungary (1X), Turkey (1X), US (2X), Netherlands (4X). The studies target five types of additional multimedia: animated illustration created by adding motion or a virtual camera, music, environmental sounds, music + sounds, animated illustration + music/ sounds. Outcome measures are story comprehension, book-based receptive vocabulary, and book-based expressive vocabulary.

Results (from analyses based on an incomplete data set). Additional multimedia enhancements in digital books stimulate learning from book reading. Effect sizes range from .21 for story comprehension to .28 for expressive vocabulary. Visual multimedia enhancements have a significant effect while music/sounds do not significantly differ from zero.

Tentative conclusions. Particularly pictures that are animated by adding camera movements and motion support learning through book reading. Music and environmental sounds should be added parsimoniously.

Using OLOS classroom observations to measure individualized literacy learning

First Author/Chair:Ashley Adams -- University of California, Irvine
Additional authors/chairs: 
Dennis Dang; Deborah Vandell; Carol Connor

Purpose: Individualized instruction has been shown to improve literacy outcomes in early elementary, school-aged children (Connor, 2014; Lou et al., 1996). Classroom observation tools can provide teachers feedback on how well they are individualizing instruction, although most tend to provide a single classroom-level measure (Hamre, Pianta, & Chomat-Mooney, 2009). To provide detailed information about the classroom experiences of individual K-3rd grade children, we developed the Optimizing Learning Opportunities for Students (OLOS) observation tool. OLOS records type of literacy instruction (code- or meaning-focused), who manages that instruction (teachers, peers, or individuals), and in what context the instruction is delivered (whole class, small group, or alone). OLOS also works in connection with the Assessment to Instruction (A2i) system that provides recommendations for amount of daily teacher-managed, code- and meaning-focused instruction that should occur to meet yearly growth goals.

Method: We coded 164 children in 19 classrooms from video for the entire literacy block. We examined distance from recommendation for these students and how that metric correlates with assessment results, providing a quantitative measure of individualized instruction.

Results: Preliminary results suggest little evidence of individualized instruction. On average, 10% of time was spent in small group instruction across grades and very little of this was code-focused (on average 12% even in kindergarten). Almost one third of children were reading below grade level, but these children did not receive any more (or less) literacy instruction than their peers.

Conclusions: More professional development and continuing support is needed for teachers to effectively individualize instruction.

Interactivity in digital books for young children: evidence from theory-driven design

First Author/Chair:Kathleen Roskos -- John Carroll University

Purpose: The tech affordances of digital books offer new possibilities for actively engaging young children with storybooks to their benefit, although the features of effective design for improving learning outcomes remain unclear. This paper describes the theoretical cornerstones of advanced design that support early literacy and findings from recent studies that apply theory-based design principles.

Method: Drawing on the multimedia learning literature, a design model is proposed that identifies relevant theories for deriving principles and exemplary features of design that promote preschoolers’ narrative comprehension and vocabulary. A content analysis (in progress) is conducted on a sample of recent digital book studies based on the model. Evidence of theory-based principles, digital storytelling features, interface technologies at the screen page level (e.g., touch designs), research methods and effects on learning outcomes is critically examined to derive a set of descriptive observations that represent the model and inform design.

Results: Preliminary analyses indicate the considerable progress made in design quality since the early days of CD-ROM books, pointing to affordances that make digital books more engaging for young children. Closer analyses of studies with more advanced designs provide data for identifying not only broad perspectives on book design, but also what is still needed in linking book design and theory to research evidence based on outcomes.

Conclusions: Testable theoretical models that contain specific learning mechanisms linked to research evidence on the benefits of digital storybooks are very needed in building a digital literacy research base. The analysis is a step in this direction.

Using EMBRACE technology for english language learning in Chile

First Author/Chair:Maria Graciela Badilla Quintana -- Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción
Additional authors/chairs: 
Arthur M. Glenberg

Purpose: EMBRACE teaches simulation during reading using an iPad-based technology: After reading an action sentence, the child moves pictures on the iPad to illustrate sentence content. Will EMBRACE be effective for English language learning children in Chile? Will working in dyads increase its effectiveness? Does additional Spanish support (SS) in the form of presenting background knowledge in Spanish also increase its effectiveness?

Method: Participants were 47 8th-grade Chilean students who were learning English as a second language as part of their curriculum. For this research, students read texts in English using EMBRACE or Control (reading on the iPad but without moving pictures), working individually or in dyads, and some students had additional SS. Also, students attended a public school or a semi-private school.

Preliminary Results: A significant School by Condition interaction demonstrated that EMBRACE was generally effective for children in the semi-private school. EMBRACE was not effective for children in the public school who performed poorly in all conditions. For children in the semi-private school, reading in dyads resulted in better comprehension than reading alone. Reading with SS slightly decreased comprehension.

Tentative Conclusions: Learning a simulation strategy for English reading comprehension using EMBRACE was effective for Spanish-speaking students with more-than-basic English. EMBRACE conjoined with reading in dyads was particularly effective. Surprisingly, presenting background knowledge in Spanish slightly reduced comprehension, perhaps because of difficulties in code switching. Additional data are being collected to investigate both the dyad and background knowledge effects.