Working across visual and spoken data to understand children’s experiences of reading

Year: 2019

Author: Nichols, Sue

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Researchers interested in young children’s experiences of early reading have often relied on parental and teacher report, testing and observations. It is far less usual to consult children as to how they experience reading. This project utilised a drawing elicitation activity with twenty Year 1 child participants in a reading intervention. The participant children attended a state school in a neighbourhood of high social challenge and were targets of an initiative funded by charity United Way to place senior volunteers into classrooms as “reading pals”.

The project was informed by constructivist and semiotic theories, with the former explaining children’s meaning making as a dynamic process (Oldfather et al, 1999) and the latter focusing attention on the semiotic resources that are employed in the communication of meanings (Kress & Van Leeuwen, 2006; Unsworth, 2008). To elicit children’s experiences, researchers invited children to create drawings of their reading experiences and interviewed them during the drawing activity. Both drawings and talk were treated as elements in a holistic multimodal communication event (Machin, 2007). The method of visual annotation (Arzipe, 2014) was used analytically to make connections between children’s spoken communications and their visual representations. This session will focus on how the analysis revealed the diverse ways in which children made sense of their reading contexts, texts and relationships. This method enabled children’s voices to be meaningfully integrated into the project report and recommendations regarding the implementation of reading interventions. It provided opportunities to gain deeper understanding into what children experienced as motivators and barriers to their participation in reading both in and outside of the classroom.

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