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Title:Relative efficacy of parent and teacher involvement in a shared-reading intervention for preschool children from low-income backgrounds
Author:Lonigan, C.J., & Whitehurst, G.J.
Resource Type:Journal Article
Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 13(2)

pp. 263-290
Education Level:Early Childhood/Pre-K
Literature type:Research and Evaluation

This randomized controlled trial focuses on a shared-reading strategy called dialogic reading. Dialogic reading is a specific strategy in which Òthe child learns to become the storyteller. The adult assumes the role of an active listener, asking questions, adding information, and prompting the child to increase the sophistication of her or his description of the material in the picture book. As the child becomes accustomed to her or his role as the storyteller, the adult shifts more of the responsibility for telling the story to the childÓ (p. 265). This Lonigan and Whitehurst study was a replication of a series of studies by Whitehurst and colleagues which found that dialogic reading had significant effects on preschool childrenÕs language skills. Previous studies found that the combination of teachers and parents using the dialogic reading strategy with children resulted in the largest effects on childrenÕs skills. The current study was designed to replicate those findings with a more disadvantaged group of children. The authors also sought to explore the relative effectiveness of parents and teachers in using dialogic reading program with low-income children. Participants were recruited from families of 3- and 4-year-old children who attended four child care centers serving predominantly low-income families and then randomly assigned to one of four groups: a school reading group, a home reading group, a school plus home reading group, and a control group. Of 114 participants originally engaged in the study, 91 remained through the post-test, but analysis indicated no differences on pretest variables among those who left and those who remained. Assessment instruments included the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, Expressive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT-R), the verbal expression subtest of the Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Abilities, and analysis of a semi-structured reading interaction. Both parents and teachers of children in the treatment group were trained (via videotape) in the dialogic reading method. Dialogic reading was scheduled at the child care centers for 10 minutes daily over six weeks, using specific books, and parents were encouraged to read daily. Both parents and teachers kept log sheets. Researchers found significant effects on specific aspects of childrenÕs expressive language skills. Additionally, the study reported effects on two measures of expressive language, the EOWPVT and the ITPA-VE; effects were both statistically and practically significant. Results differed, however, depending on the outcome measure, and the pattern of significance differed from that obtained in the 1994 study being replicated. The authors listed several possible explanations for the difference, related to characteristics of the outcome measures and size of the current study sample. The authors also found that the intervention worked better in some centers than in othersÓ (p. 281) and noted differences between Òhigh-complianceÓ and Òlow-complianceÓ child care centers. Regarding the relative efficacy of teacher and parent use of dialogic reading, findings also varied depending on the outcome measure used and on the frequency with which children were exposed to dialogic reading at school. Within Òhigh complianceÓ centers, children exposed to dialogic reading at both home and school appeared to benefit more in terms of gains in expressive vocabulary than those who were exposed just at home or just at school. In terms of childrenÕs descriptive use of language, results were stronger in the home group than in either the school or the school plus home group.

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