The role of technology in the homes of emergent readers

Gail A Zieman, Marquette University


This purpose of this study was to explore the role technology in the home plays in the development of emergent reading skills. This naturalistic interpretive study was conducted in the homes of two four-year old preschool boys. The study focused on the children's selection and use of emergent reading software. Each case study's data consisted of 15 observations, four interviews with the preschooler, two interviews with the parent and two home visits. The observations were transcribed and analyzed for emergent reading behaviors. Sixteen of the thirty combined total observations were then analyzed using the Goals of the Emergent Reading Stage (O'Donnell & Wood, 2004). This theoretical framework consists of seven benchmarks that help to determine whether or not a child is in the emergent stage of literacy acquisition. Both hand-coding as well as NVivo, a computer-based coding tool, were used to analyze the data. The analysis revealed that varying degrees of all seven benchmarks were present in the children's use of emergent reading software. Additional themes emerged from the analysis including: (1) the benefit of sibling help; (2) Concepts About Print; (3) unique visual characteristics of emergent reading software; and (4) the prevalence of games. These findings indicated that while evidence of the seven benchmarks of emergent literacy were found, two benchmarks---Begins to acquire specific understandings about the nature, purpose and function of print and Experiments with reading and writing independently through approximation ---were observed significantly less than the other five. The children's independent choice of activities plays an important role in the learning benefits of the emergent software. These findings, combined with the reality of the prevalence and accessibility of technology in the homes of preschoolers, suggest that emergent reading software is another "way of knowing" in the multiple literacies philosophy of literacy acquisition (Kanot et al. 1992). However, until more studies can be conducted on the efficacy of all types of commercial technologies for emergent reading skills, the use of technology in the home as an emergent reading tool should be viewed as supplemental and not a replacement for many of the traditional emergent literacy activities.

Recommended Citation

Zieman, Gail A, "The role of technology in the homes of emergent readers" (2005). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI3201934.