By Dr Lisa Kervin and Dr Jessica Mantei, Language and Literacies, Faculty of Education and members of the Interdisciplinary Educational Research Institute (IERI).
Literature examining how children learn to read is plentiful, but there is little literature that discusses young children’s ability to read digitally, which is fundamentally different from the act of reading traditional print based texts.
To address this gap in the literature, we are working in collaboration with Jan Hutton, Michelle Rodwell and Kristy Kervin from the Catholic Diocese Office in Wollongong, and Grant Elmers from Creative Arts (UOW), to design an assessment tool to capture information from early readers, focusing in particular on Kindergarten and Year 1. Initially, the team analysed the “Concepts about Print” assessment (Clay, 1972), a well-respected assessment tool in the literacy field. We identified the under lying principles of assessment and determined which of those principles could be transferred to a digital environment. Next a tool was designed which took the form of a webpage. Professor Don Leu (University of Connecticut), reviewed the tool, providing critical feedback. After making some further refinements the webpage was trialled in the classroom.
Initial findings have proven interesting. When the children looked at the site one of the first questions they were asked is, “what do you notice?” Interestingly, every child focused on something different when initially looking at the screen. This has given a small indication of just how difficult and demanding it can be to read in a digital environment. Further funding for this project is being sought, so as to continue to refine the instrument while working with teachers to see how discoveries made might be applied to transform classroom pedagogies.
This article was originally published in the Interdisciplinary Educational Research Institute Newsletter Issue 6, Winter 2012.