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Does Technology = More Knowledgeable Other? an Investigation of the Effects of an Integrated Learning System on the Literacy Learning of Emergent Readers

Description: Professionals in education continue to explore technology as a way to instruct young students, and there is an accompanying belief that this technology can make an educational and academic difference. Despite the high percentage of young students in classrooms using technology, the impact of this technology on the early literacy skills of young children remains largely unknown. Guided by Vygotsky’s social learning theory, this study reports a 24-week investigation on whether regular use of Istation®, an integrated learning system used by approximately 3,000,000 students in the United States, had an effect on the early literacy achievement of children in twelve kindergarten classrooms. A mixed-method, quasi-experimental design was constructed using propensity scores. Also investigated were the effects of the level of teacher literacy support on early literacy achievement and the interaction between Istation® use and the level of teacher literacy support. A descriptive discriminant analysis was performed to determine the main effect of Istation®. The level of teacher support and the interaction effect was then tested using a multivariate between-subject analysis. Results indicated that Istation® did have a statistically significant effect on the early literacy skills of the 72 kindergarten students studied and was able to explain 17.7% of the variance in group differences. Hearing and recording sounds and letter sound knowledge were the main contributors to group differences. Teacher literacy support and the interaction between teacher support and Istation were not significant. This study considers the relationship between technology and early literacy and concludes that Istation® can serve as a more knowledgeable other as students develop some early literacy skills; however, teachers are still needed to provide complete literacy instruction for young students.
Date: August 2014
Creator: Putman, Rebecca S.
Partner: UNT Libraries