Potential effects of different types of audio in electronic books on young children’s reading comprehension and vocabulary learning

Research Description

The purpose of this study is to examine the potential effects that different types of audio in e-books have on young children’s reading comprehension and vocabulary learning. This study will compare the reading comprehension and vocabulary learning of sixty, 4- and 5-year-old children as they read independently one of the three versions of an e-book with one of the following audio features combined with animated pictures: 1) only oral language, 2) oral language plus meaningful music, and 3) oral language plus noise. We will visit the children’s school/center or home twice for test and reading sessions. All sessions will be guided by the co-investigator, Dr. Ji Eun Kim and one or two research assistants. Children will individually complete the tests and read the e-book. At the beginning of each session, the researchers will get a child’s verbal assent, and then provide the child with general guidance about the session following a written protocol.

During the first visit, the researcher will read one well known short sing-a-song-book to the child to help put the child at ease and develop rapport. She will then administer the Book familiarity check, and the Target Receptive Vocabulary Test (TRVT). Then, the child will read independently the version of the e-book assigned to him/her. After the 1st reading, the researcher will administer the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) and have the child do the second reading of the e-book. During the reading sessions, the researcher will stay in the room. She will provide the child with the materials to read and technical help (e.g., starting e-books). This visit will take approximately 30 minutes.

A book familiarity check helps determine whether a child has read the target book before. The researcher will show the child a total of 12 pictures, including 5 pictures of popular children’s storybooks, 1 picture from the assigned e-book, and 6 pictures of other sources than children’s books (e.g., pictures of objects or scenes). The researcher will ask the child “whether the picture was from a book, and if so, which book.” PPVT is a test that examines the level of a child’s vocabulary knowledge by asking the child to name an object on a picture. TRVT is a test that examines a child’s knowledge on the 15 target words (low frequency words from the target e-book) by asking the child to answer questions by pointing to a picture among four pictures presented on a screen.

One week after the first visit, the researchers will visit again. At this time, children will participate in reading and posttest sessions. First, to make children comfortable, they will first have time to read one short sing-a-song-book with a researcher. Then, the children will read the e-book assigned to them. Right after finishing reading, the child will have posttests (in order: Target Expressive Vocabulary test [TEVT, 3min], TRVT [3min] and retelling test [5min]). This visit will take approximately 20 minutes in total.

The TEVT is a test that examines a child’s learning of the 15 target words (the same target words on the TRVT) by asking the child to name an object in a picture. The retelling test is a test of a child’s comprehension of a story on an e-book by showing some pictures of the book and asking the child to answer questions. The total time of the sessions in the two visits combined is approximately 50 minutes. After the completion of all sessions, each family will be given a $20 gift card as a small token of appreciation for their involvement in the study.

The researchers will audio-record and transcribe all children’s answers for the test questions. The test scores will provide information on children’s achievement from their independent reading of e-books. The scores will be compared across the three conditions to provide insights into children’s attention and engagement during reading. Moreover, the findings of this study will help researchers, educators and book-publishers with the design of educationally more productive e-books for young children’s literacy learning.