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Word learning and story comprehension from digital storybooks: Does interaction make a difference?

An emerging body of research examines language learning of young children from experiences with digital storybooks, but little is known about the ways in which specific components of digital storybooks, including interactive elements, may influence language learning. The purpose of the study was to examine the incidental word learning and story comprehension of preschool children after interactions with interactive and noninteractive versions of a digital storybook. Thirty preschool children were randomly assigned to one of two experimental conditions: interactive in which the story text was presented aloud and interactive features were present and not interactive in which the story text was presented aloud with no interactive features. After three sessions with the digital storybook, no group differences were observed between conditions on measures of word learning or story comprehension. Children in both groups demonstrated some learning of new words; however, gains were minimal, approximately one new word per child. This study contributes preliminary data to indicate that interactive components of digital storybooks may not be sufficient to facilitate language learning. Instruction, rather than incidental exposure, is likely necessary for meaningful language learning from digital storybooks. (author abstract)
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