Knowledge Matters: Reducing Knowledge Gaps for Low-Income and Educationally At-Risk Pre-Kindergartners through Taxonomically Organized Books and Screen Media
About the project
One of the most important predictors of early literacy development and lifelong academic achievement is the breadth, depth, and accessibility of children’s semantic knowledge: the organized knowledge they possess about words, their meanings, and the relations among them. Our research seeks to explore the mechanisms by which educationally at-risk pre-kindergartners’ semantic knowledge, including vocabulary and conceptual knowledge, is positively influenced through exposure to taxonomically-organized educational materials. Our research proposal is designed to
Develop taxonomically-organized narrative nonfiction books and screen media that engage at-risk children’s visual attention
Determine the extent to which these newly-developed educational materials can facilitate at-risk children’s semantic knowledge development and comprehension skills
Investigate the potential synergistic effects of exposure to taxonomically-organized educational materials across multiple modalities
Examine the extent to which child-level factors, such as preexisting semantic knowledge and ELL status, may moderate these effects.
"Different media add new dimensions to children’s understanding of words and text. Experiencing multiple media in combination may lead to more robust knowledge networks and learning outcomes than experiencing a single medium on its own."
Iterative Development of Taxonomically-Organized Books and Screen Media
In Year 1, we designed taxonomically-organized books and videos that drew and sustained visual attention and maintain children’s engagement, following testing with participants from the one-year Universal Pre-K For All program in District 7, Bronx, NY.
Children watched the two taxonomically-organized videos (in a counter-balanced order) on a computer equipped with a remote eye-tracking system. Sustained attention, as well as children's retention of new vocabulary and concepts were measured.
How do children visually attend to taxonomically-organized books and screen media?
In Year 2, our goal is to investigate with a larger representative sample the extent to which taxonomic organization (relative to traditional thematic materials) influences (1) sustained attention to and engagement with educational materials, (2) orientation to relevant information presented in educational materials, and (3) focused attention to relevant information presented in educational materials. Year 2 efforts will allow us to begin examining whether the potential relationship between taxonomic organization and educational outcomes is direct or indirect. In particular, we will investigate the extent to which taxonomic organization facilitates visual attention to narrative nonfiction books and videos (Year 2), which may in turn positively impact the acquisition of semantic knowledge from such educational materials (Year 3).
How do children learn from taxonomically-organized books and screen media?
Year 3 will build on findings from Year 2 by examining the extent to which taxonomically-organized educational media impacts young children’s educational outcomes. More specifically, we will investigate the extent to which taxonomic organization (1) directly supports semantic knowledge acquisition and comprehension and (2) indirectly supports these educational outcomes through directing and sustaining children’s visual attention. By isolating relationships between predictor and outcome variables (Appendix C, Figure 8), we will be in the position in Year 4 to examine the potential synergistic effects of taxonomically-organized educational materials to support at-risk children’s semantic knowledge acquisition and comprehension skills in authentic pre-kindergarten settings.
Synergistic effects of taxonomically-organized books and screen media
In Year 4 is we will continue to build on findings from Year 3 on the effects of narrative nonfiction books and screen media on at-rick children's educational outcomes by investigating the extent to which there are synergistic effects between different taxonomically-organized media.