Seeking Knowledge that is Rich and Multifaceted: Analysing variations in adult-child shared reading practices when reading printed and electronic texts

Year: 2019

Author: Nicholas, Maria

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The endeavour to seek access, engagement and equity for ‘all’ learners and communities must first begin by seeking knowledge that is rich and multifaceted. Failure to arrive armed with this knowledge runs the risk of developing policy and procedures that are based on ideals or generalisations, which will fail to meet the needs of ‘all’ learners and communities when put into practice.

For decades research has shown that young children benefit from the practice of adult-child shared reading. Long term benefits include more advanced language, social and emotional development outcomes than for children who have not engaged in the practice. Research has also found, however, that adult-child shared reading practices vary along with children’s outcomes. For example, dialogic shared reading, where children are invited to participate in conversation, has been found to lead to more beneficial outcomes for children than non-dialogic shared reading; yet even dialogic shared reading practices/outcomes have been found to vary. The introduction of the electronic text has added an additional layer of complexity. Research has presented with at times contradictory results when identifying if and how electronic texts facilitate comparable outcomes to the use of printed texts when shared reading. This issue of variability has meant that it is not enough to advise that children be exposed to adult-child shared reading from an early age or to simply supply carers with books. Specificity is needed to clarify the features of texts and the practices that adults engage that are likely to facilitate the most beneficial outcomes for young children. A review of the literature, however, has found that researchers are also varied in what they specifically report on and how they describe adult-child shared reading practices. There is therefore warrant for a more unified, multifaceted approach to the analysis and generation of knowledge into adult-child shared reading practices.

Using a mixture of qualitative and quantitative data, through the use of questionnaires, video data and interviews, this Australian-based study investigated the shared reading behaviours of 11 adults and their 2-year-old children when reading printed and electronic narratives. The study resulted in the development and testing of a multifaceted, Vygotskian-inspired approach to data analysis that can be used across studies. This approach has the potential to facilitate the generation of rich knowledge that can be used to inform policy and procedures in future, seeking to benefit ‘all’ of the learners and communities to whom they apply.