Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Measuring gains in literacy of deaf preschoolers: An action research study
by Schlehofer, Deirdre, Ed.D., University of Rochester, 2009, 280; 3367264
Abstract (Summary)

Research has shown that family involvement during meaningful book-sharing activities can support emergent language and literacy development. However, little is known about how hearing parents read books to their deaf children at home with the assistance of ASL-using tutors. The literature suggests that the majority of deaf children from hearing families would benefit from a learning model of a community of learners collaborating to create a zone of proximal development, consistent work socio-cultural theory espoused by Vygotsky and other like-minded theorists.

A long-running national program, the Shared Reading Project (SRP) is devoted to training hearing parents to read to their deaf children with the assistance of ASL tutors. Activities are based on book-sharing principles and continue for a ten-week or a twenty-week period. This study was designed to begin to explore how some assessments could help improve the effectiveness of the cross-cultural bilingual literacy practices taking place in SRP and the collaboration between parents and tutors. Using an action research paradigm, I collaborated with two sets of SRP parents and a tutor to develop, pilot and revise a specific set of assessment materials and procedures appropriate for deaf children in the SRP program and easily useable by parents and tutors, as well as to document deaf children's progress in literacy skills as a result of the program. More specifically, this assessment toolkit included commercially available checklists and a new naturalistic video-recall procedure.

The overarching question informing this study is: How do we develop an assessment toolkit that hearing parents can use to evaluate their deaf child's literacy gains in SRP, and also as a tool to become more effective in shared reading events in meaningful ways? This translated in the following research questions: (1) What combinations of easy-to-use assessment materials and procedures are most appropriate to measure the gains in literacy skills made by deaf children in the SRP? (2) What training and support do hearing parents need in order to be able to use these authentic assessments effectively? (3) What are the benefits and drawbacks of using these assessment procedures and materials for parents and tutors?

The study involved four parents, their deaf children and a deaf tutor working with them. Data collected included the observation and videotaping of selected shared reading sessions, an initial meeting with parents and tutors, review of checklist assessments, group interviews at the end of the SRP, parents' and tutor's journals as well as researcher logs notes. These data were analyzed via qualitative research methodology to shed light on each of the research questions in the spirit of action research. The revised set of assessment materials and procedures produced as a result of this study was proposed for adoption as an integral part of the SRP.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Borasi, Raffaella, Mock, Martha
School: University of Rochester
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 70/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational tests & measurements, Early childhood education, Special education, Curriculum development
Keywords: Action research, American Sign Language, Deaf, Deaf literacy, English (print), Literacy, Preschool children, Preschoolers, Reading assessment
Publication Number: 3367264
ISBN: 978-1-109-26841-6
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