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ERIC Number: ED518188
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 15
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: N/A
Taxonomic Organization Scaffolds Young Children's Learning from Storybooks: A Design Experiment
Kaefer, Tanya; Pinkham, Ashley M.; Neuman, Susan B.
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
The purpose of this design experiment was to research, test and iteratively design a set of taxonomically-organized storybooks that served to scaffold young children's word learning and concept development. Specifically, Phase 1 of the design experiment asked: (1) What are the effects of taxonomic organization on children's ability to acquire vocabulary from storybooks?; (2) What are the effects of taxonomic organization on children's storybook comprehension?; and (3) What are the effects of taxonomic organization on children's understanding of which types of information can be generalized to new exemplars? Phase 2 explored whether children's preexisting background knowledge influenced the effects of taxonomic organization on their vocabulary and concept learning. The authors asked: (1) What are the differential effects of taxonomic organization on children's ability to acquire vocabulary from storybooks when their preexisting background knowledge varies?; (2) What are the differential effects of taxonomic organization on children's storybook comprehension when their preexisting background knowledge varies?; and (3) What are the differential effects of taxonomic organization on children's understanding of which types of information can be generalized to new exemplars when their preexisting background knowledge varies? Subjects were recruited from 19 preschools in a large metropolitan area. Although taxonomic organization did not appear to impact children's ability to learn new words, Phase 1 suggests that taxonomic organization may significantly impact children's literal comprehension of storybook narratives. The effect size was modest; however, this is consistent with other storybook interventions (Elleman, Lindo, Morphy, & Compton, 2009; Mol et al., 2009). Consequently, it appears that taxonomic organization may provide a modest but meaningful scaffold for children's comprehension. Overall, children demonstrated some understanding that taxonomic properties can be generalized to new exemplars, whereas thematic properties cannot; however, taxonomic organization did not appear to further scaffold this understanding. Phase 2 suggests that children's preexisting background knowledge and general vocabulary knowledge may interactively influence the effects of taxonomic organization on children's learning. When children's knowledge of the taxonomic category was held constant, children with smaller vocabularies learned as many words from taxonomically-organized storybooks as children with larger vocabularies. However, children with larger vocabularies demonstrated greater storybook comprehension than children with smaller vocabularies, regardless of whether they possessed preexisting knowledge of the taxonomic category. Taken together, these results suggest that taxonomic organization may impact children's learning about novel categories, but it may be insufficient to level the playing field for children with more limited general vocabulary knowledge. This suggests that future interventions may need to simultaneously develop children's vocabulary and conceptual knowledge.
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208. Tel: 202-495-0920; Fax: 202-640-4401; e-mail: inquiries@sree.org; Web site: http://www.sree.org
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Early Childhood Education; Preschool Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)