WWC review of this study

Shared Book Reading: When and How Questions Affect Young Children's Word Learning [Scaffolding questions during book reading vs. asking either low- or high-demand questions during book reading]

Blewitt, Pamela; Rump, Keiran M.; Shealy, Stephanie E.; Cook, Samantha A. (2009). Journal of Educational Psychology, v101 n2 p294-304. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ835037

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grade

Reviewed: June 2022

At least one finding shows promising evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Language outcomes—Statistically significant positive effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

New Word Definition Test (NWDT; Blewitt et al., 2009)

Scaffolding questions during book reading vs. Other intervention

1 Week

Full sample;
50 students





Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • Female: 48%
    Male: 52%

  • Suburban
  • Race
    Other or unknown


The study took place in four suburban preschools within a quiet area of the preschools. The exact racial/ethnic and financial composition of the sample is not stated, but the four preschools each served predominantly middle- to upper-class families. Families served by the schools were 90% European American, 6% Asian, 3% African American, and 1% Hispanic.

Study sample

Experiment 2 consisted of 50 child participants: 24 girls and 26 boys. The study lacked information about the racial composition of the sample.

Intervention Group

Each child met individually with a researcher over the course of 6 weeks for four reading sessions. In these reading sessions, children were exposed to a total of 3 new books and a total of 9 novel "target" words. For the intervention condition (scaffolding-like), children were asked a mix of low demand questions (e.g., "What are they selling at the pagoda?"; approximately two-thirds of the questions asked) and high demand questions (e.g., "Do you think the ticket man lives at the pagoda? Why or why not?"; approximately one-third of the questions asked), with more high demand questions asked later in the readings.

Comparison Group

The comparison condition was identical to the intervention condition, except that children were only asked either low demand questions or high demand questions.

Support for implementation

No implementation support information is provided.

Reviewed: April 2015

Does not meet WWC standards

Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Study sample characteristics were not reported.

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