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IES Grant

Title: Educational Media Supports for Low-Income Preschoolers' Vocabulary Development
Center: NCER Year: 2015
Principal Investigator: Neuman, Susan Awardee: New York University
Program: Cognition and Student Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years (9/1/2015-8/31/2018) Award Amount: $1,063,416
Type: Exploration Award Number: R305A150143
Description:

Co-Principal Investigator: Ashley Pinkham (West Texas A&M University)

Purpose: The purpose of this research is to explore the mechanisms by which low-income preschoolers' vocabulary development and oral language comprehension are influenced by their experiences with educational media. The specific aims of this research are to define the features of educational media that support low-income children's vocabulary acquisition and oral language comprehension; establish how these features impact low-income children's engagement with educational media; and determine the extent to which manipulating these features supports low-income children's vocabulary development and comprehension.

By identifying the malleable factors associated with educational media and determining the relative influence of these factors on student academic outcomes, this research will be an essential step towards developing and identifying school-based, media-rich interventions for at-risk students.

Project Activities: In Year 1, the research team will conduct a content analysis to identify the screen-based pedagogical cues present in educational media that may serve to support low-income preschool students' vocabulary development. In Years 2 and 3, the research team will conduct a series of three studies to examine the effects of different types and levels of screen-based pedagogical supports in educational screen media on low-income preschool students' vocabulary and comprehension.

Products: The products of this project include preliminary evidence of potentially promising pedagogical cues in educational media as well as peer-reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Setting: Studies will take place in a laboratory at New York University and Head Start preschools located in an urban area of New York.

Sample: Researchers plan to recruit 406 pre-kindergartners from low socioeconomic status backgrounds (110 in Year 2, 148 in Year 3, 148 in Year 4). All participants are native English speakers, have typically developing language skills, and no history of vision or hearing problems. Researchers will recruit participants from an area characterized by high poverty rates, low median income, large numbers of single-mother households, and low educational attainment. Participants will have a race/ethnicity composition of African-American (72%), Hispanic/Latino (9%), multi-racial (14%), and European-American (5%).

Intervention: Due to the exploratory nature of this research, there is no intervention. The goal of these studies is to identify malleable factors associated with educational media and to determine the relative influence of those factors on students' vocabulary development and oral language comprehension. The findings will be informative for the development of school-based, media-rich interventions intended to support vocabulary development and oral language comprehension for at-risk students.

Research Design and Methods: The proposed research will utilize a multi-method approach consisting of four studies with three distinct methodological designs: content analysis, observation, and experimental manipulations in authentic educational settings. In Year 1, the research team will conduct Study 1, a content analysis that identifies the screen-based pedagogical cues present in educational media that may serve to support low-income preschool students' vocabulary development. The research team will identify a sample of approximately 250 educational DVDs and code them to identify different screen-based pedagogical cues. In Years 2 and 3, the research team will collect primary data with students. For all of these studies, students will view video clips while their eye movements are being tracked. Study 2 will be an observational study to examine the extent to which the level of screen-based pedagogical support influences how low-income preschool students watch educational media. All participants will view the same video clips, but in a randomized order. Researchers will measure participants' general vocabulary knowledge and administer a questionnaire to parents on their child's screen media experiences. Study 3 will be an experimental study to address whether the overall level of screen-based pedagogical support in education screen media affects low-income preschool students' vocabulary and comprehension. This study will use a within-subjects, blocked design, where all students will view half of the videos with strong pedagogical support and half with limited support in a counterbalanced order. Researchers will administer pre- and post-tests to students to assess their vocabulary knowledge and comprehension of literal content. Study 4 will be an experimental study that examines the relationship between screen-based ostensive cues (i.e., cues to elicit children's attention and convey pedagogical intent) and attention-directing cues (i.e., cues to direct children's attention to the specific information or content to be learned)and addresses the extent to which manipulating this relationship affects low-income preschool children's vocabulary and comprehension. This study will use a between-subjects factorial design that manipulates the level of each type of cue (ostensive vs. attention-directing) in the video clips that participants view. The research team will administer pre- and post-tests to students to assess their vocabulary knowledge and comprehension of literal content.

Control Condition: There is no formal control condition in these studies. The comparison group differs as a function of the research question being asked, as described above.

Key Measures: Primary measures of vocabulary knowledge and comprehension include the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-4 (PPVT-4), researcher-developed tests of children's target vocabulary and children's comprehension of literal content, both modeled after the PPVT. Children's visual attention toward educational media will be assessed using eye-tracking methodology (i.e., using gaze duration, location).

Data Analytic Strategy: Due to the multi-method approach, researchers will address questions using a range of statistical methods and analyses. The analytic strategy will include mixed-effects general linear modeling, Pearson's chi-squared test, mediation and moderated-mediation analysis, and structural equation modeling.

Publications

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Flynn, R., Wong, K., Neuman, S.B., and Kaefer, T. (in press). Children's Attention to Screen-Based Pedagogical Supports Predicts Vocabulary Learning: An Eye-Tracking Study with Low-Income Preschool Children. Developmental Psychology.

Neuman, S. B., Wong, K. M., and Kaefer, T. (2017). Content Not Form Predicts Oral Language Comprehension: The Influence of the Medium on Preschoolers' Story Understanding. Reading and Writing: 1–19.


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