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An Investigation into the Effects of Electronic Storybooks on Language and Literacy Outcomes

SAVVA, MARILENA (2024) An Investigation into the Effects of Electronic Storybooks on Language and Literacy Outcomes. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

PDF (PhD Thesis_Marilena Savva) - Accepted Version
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The array of availability of diverse digital reading applications, the mixed results emerging from small-scale experimental studies, as well as the long-standing tradition and range of known positive developmental outcomes gained from adult-child storybook reading warrant an investigation into electronic storybooks (e-books). In doing so, the thesis looks to provide the reader with both a meta-analysis and an experimental study of e-book and print book reading for young children. To achieve this, the thesis comprises of two studies, which complement each other.

Study 1 comprises of a meta-analysis of examining the effects of e-books on language and literacy outcomes for young children. The overall purpose of the meta-analysis was to examine the impact of e-book reading on language and literacy development of young children when compared to traditional reading of print books with or without adult scaffolding in a structured and controlled environment. The meta-analysis included 29 experimental studies published between 2008 and 2021 with a target population of 3–8-year-olds. Analyses indicated a small positive effect for e-books when compared to print books on language and literacy development (g = 0.25; 95% CI = [0.09, 0.42]). A moderate positive effect was found for vocabulary learning (g = 0.40; 95% CI = [0.10, 0.69]), especially in relation to expressive vocabulary (g = 0.54; 95% CI = [0.08, 1.00]). In addition, a significant positive correlation was found between multimedia e-books and the development of code-related skills (g = 0.63, 95% CI = [0.28, 0.99]). However, no significant differences were found between e-book and print book reading in relation to story comprehension. Overall, findings showed that digital features combined with adult scaffolding produced significant positive effects when compared to traditional print book reading with adult support. The findings have practical ramifications, since they can help researchers and educators identify which digital features have the greatest influence on improving children’s language and literacy skills when engaging with e-books.

Study 2 collected data from sixty children between the ages of 3 and 7 years old over the school year 2020-2021. The children attended a private English school in Cyprus where English was taught as a main language, but it was considered an additional language for the participants. The purpose of the second study was to employ the findings from the first study and apply them to a particular demographic, namely children who learn English as an additional language, in order to assess the impact of e-books in contrast to print books on the learning outcomes of this specific group of learners. The intervention took place at their school, where two print books and two e-books were compared using two different teaching styles – an interactive style and a performance style. The children listened to each story twice. The statistical analyses were conducted using the IBM SPSS Statistics 28 software; particularly, repeated measures ANOVA analyses were conducted. The results of the study indicated that children who are acquiring English as an additional language may enhance their vocabulary and comprehension skills by engaging in storybook reading with the support of interactive adult scaffolding. Specifically, the findings demonstrated a significant statistical difference in expressive vocabulary between the interactive teaching style and the performance teaching style, with the interactive teaching style yielding higher mean scores (F(1, 58) = 5.014, p=0.02, ηp2=0.08). Additionally, it was observed that the interactive teaching style yielded greater mean scores compared to the performance teaching style (F(1, 56)=4.15, p=0.04, ηp2=0.06) in story comprehension outcomes (although the results were deemed non-significant after the Bonferroni adjustment). In terms of e-books versus print books, there was no interaction effect for receptive vocabulary (F(1, 58) = 0.177, p=0.67, ηp2=0.00) and expressive vocabulary (F(1, 58) = 2.490, p =0.12, ηp2=0.04), which shows that everyone improved from pre-test to post-test regardless of condition. While analysing the results retrieved from book medium analyses, post-scores revealed a statistically significant result for explicit story comprehension (p=0.04, ηp2=0.07), favouring the print condition (before Bonferroni correction).

Together, the two studies indicate that e-books can support language and literacy outcomes. Multimedia features incorporated in e-books are found to benefit children more than interactive features, which seem to distract children from the storyline and as a result from their development. This thesis also highlights the importance of adult scaffolding during storytelling sessions, since it benefits children more than independently listening to an e-book. Adult support during e-book reading can support both typical developing learners, as well as children learning English as an additional language. Findings indicated that the utilisation of interactive adult scaffolding is beneficial for children who are learning English as an additional language. This approach involves engaging children in discussions about the story while they are reading, as opposed to the performance teaching style, which involves skilful storytelling with minimal interruptions in the text. Overall, multimedia e-books with adult support have the potential to support young children in both vocabulary and story comprehension, regardless of their native language.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:electronic storybooks; print storybooks; vocabulary; story comprehension
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Education, School of
Thesis Date:2024
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:22 May 2024 15:08

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