|Title:||Reducing Knowledge Gaps for Low-Income and Educationally At-risk Pre-kindergartners through Taxonomically Organized Books and Screen Media|
|Principal Investigator:||Neuman, Susan||Awardee:||New York University|
|Program:||Cognition and Student Learning [Program Details]|
|Award Period:||4 years (09/01/2021 – 08/31/2025)||Award Amount:||$1,478,504|
Co-Principal Investigators: Pinkham, Ashley; Kaefer, Tanya
Purpose: Children's semantic knowledge, which is the organized knowledge of words, their meanings, and the relations among them, is one of the most important predictors of early literacy development and academic achievement. In this project, the research team will explore the mechanisms by which educationally at-risk pre-kindergartners' semantic knowledge can be improved through taxonomically-organized educational materials. Taxonomies are conceptually coherent categories organized in a hierarchical manner that may facilitate inference-making and knowledge generation. The research team will examine the effects of designing taxonomically organized narrative nonfiction books and screen media on children's visual attention; explore the effects of these newly-designed materials on children's semantic knowledge and comprehension skills; investigate potential synergistic effects of exposure to both taxonomically-organized books and screen media on educational outcomes; and examine the extent to which child-level factors, such as preexisting semantic knowledge and English Learner status, may moderate these effects.
Project Activities: In Year 1, the research team will iteratively develop the study materials and test them with students. In Year 2, the research team will conduct a study to observe students' visual attention to and engagement with taxonomically organized materials. In Years 3 and 4, the research team will conduct two studies. They will explore the effects of taxonomically-organized books or screen media and the potentially synergistic effects of taxonomically-organized books and screen media on at-risk children's semantic knowledge acquisition and comprehension.
Products: Through this project, the research team will identify the design features associated with taxonomic organization, and then create narrative nonfiction books and screen media to support semantic knowledge development for children at risk of school failure. This project will provide information on how educational books and screen media may be created, modified, and selected to facilitate at-risk children's semantic knowledge, comprehension skills, and early literacy development. The research team will disseminate findings to researchers, practitioners, and the general public through reports and peer-reviewed publications.
Setting: This research will take place in urban preschool programs in New York. Children have a racial/ethnic composition of over 60% Latinx, 10% West African, 10% Black, and 10% Middle Eastern. Approximately 9% of children attending pre-kindergarten in the district are considered English Language Learners (ELLs), while 96% are considered economically disadvantaged.
Sample: Participants include approximately 40 students who will participate in the iterative design and testing taking place in Year 1. The research team will recruit approximately 220 students each year during Years 2–4 to participate in the three studies planned during those years of the grant. The team will recruit students from 15 participating classrooms.
Factors: This exploratory project will examine the extent to which intentionally- and iteratively-designed taxonomically-organized books and screen media influence at-risk children's engagement and educational outcomes. Using key features of taxonomic categorization identified in the literature, the project will develop and measure the effects of these newly-designed books and screen media in comparison with traditional thematic materials on children's engagement with the materials and subsequent semantic knowledge acquisition and comprehension. The research team will also address child-level factors, such as preexisting semantic knowledge and ELL status, as potential moderators.
Research Design and Methods: The research team will use three distinct research methodologies in a series of four studies. In Year 1, the research team will iteratively develop and test the materials that will be used in the subsequent studies. In Year 2, the research team will conduct an observational study using eye tracking to examine children's visual attention to and engagement with taxonomically organized materials. In Year 3, the research team will randomly assign students to interact with either books or screen media to explore the effects of each on students' semantic knowledge acquisition and comprehension. In Year 4, the research team will randomly assign students to one of three conditions (books, screen media, or both) to explore the potentially synergistic effects of taxonomically-organized books and screen media on at-risk students' semantic knowledge acquisition and comprehension.
Control Condition: The research team will compare the effects of taxonomically-organized narrative nonfiction books and screen media relative to traditional thematic books and screen media on children's semantic knowledge acquisition and comprehension.
Key Measures: The research team will use eye-tracking technology to assess children's visual attention to and engagement with educational materials across all studies. They will use the PPVT to assess children's receptive English vocabulary knowledge (PPVT-V), a researcher-developed measure of preexisting semantic knowledge, and parent/teacher reports of ELL status. For the studies conducted in years 3 and 4, they will also collect measures of target vocabulary, literal comprehension, and inductive reasoning.
Data Analytic Strategy: Due to the numerous methods being used across studies in this project, the research team will use a range of statistical methods and analyses. Their analytic strategy will include descriptive statistics, hierarchical linear modeling (HLM), and multi-level mediation analysis.
Related IES Projects: Educational Media Supports for Low-Income Preschoolers' Vocabulary Development (R305A150143)