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Describing Shared Reading with eBooks

by Susan Rvachew and Kathrin Rees

The short history of research on children’s learning from digital media has been marked by technological determinism – a sense that child outcomes can be linked more or less directly to the reading medium. For example, Neuman, Kaefer, Pinkham, and Strouse (2014) determined that infants cannot learn to read from ‘baby videos’ after conducting a randomized control trial. Parish-Morris, Mahajanm, Hirsh-Pasek, Golinkoff, and Collins (2013) concluded that ebooks impair children’s story comprehension relative to paper books, because parents do not use optimum shared reading techniques in the ebook condition. Takacs, Swart, and Bus (2015) found that multimedia features in ebooks support children’s vocabulary learning, whereas interactive features distract children from learning. We have found that understanding how children learn from ebooks requires a more comprehensive view in which complex interactions among aspects of the reading medium, the child, and the adult are amplified. Our desire to view all aspects of the shared reading interaction forced us to develop a coding system for our video data that broadened the scope of currently available coding schemes while incorporating the theoretical perspectives validated for each of the individual components (e.g., Hirsh-Pasek, Zosh, Golinkoff, Gray, & Kaufman, 2015; Van Kleeck, 2003). We provide information about our coding system here for anyone else who may find it to be useful.

The coding scheme that we describe is applied to the analysis of video recorded shared reading interactions, ideally with synchronized video showing the back and front views of the reading dyad, permitting a full view of the reading medium and any actions performed on it as well as all relevant verbal and nonverbal behaviors of the adult and child or children involved in the reading context. The interactions are described in the form of discrete behaviors by each person involved, organized to identify consecutive or overlapping behaviors in the verbal and nonverbal domains within or between parties. We produced these transcripts with CHAT (http://childes.psy.cmu.edu), supplemented with excel worksheets and Noldus coding.

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