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Environmental, behavioural, and cognitive predictors of emergent literacy and reading skills Open Access


Other title
shared book reading
emergent literacy skills
reading skills
home literacy environment
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Stephenson, Kathy
Supervisor and department
Parrila, Rauno (Educational Psychology)
Examining committee member and department
McQuarrie, Lynn (Educational Psychology)
McInnes, Alison (Educational Psychology)
Bus, Adriana (Leiden University, Netherlands)
Smith, Veronica (Educational Psychology)
Bisanz, Jeff (Psychology)
Department of Educational Psychology

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
This thesis consists of three separate papers broadly examining how different environmental and child variables affect language and literacy acquisition in two or more orthographies. The first paper is a quantitative meta-analysis of studies that have examined the effects of shared book reading on language, emergent literacy skills, and reading achievement with preschool children. The results suggest that shared book reading explained approximately 7% of variance in all the language and literacy measures combined. The mean effect size of shared book reading was slightly larger for the combined language measures (d = 0.77) than for the combined emergent literacy measures (d = 0.57), or the combined reading achievement measures (d = 0.63). An examination of the effects of shared book reading on specific language, emergent literacy, and reading skills revealed that shared book reading is more related to some skills than others. The second paper examines the effects of home literacy (shared book reading, teaching activities, and number of books), children’s task-focused behaviour, and parents’ beliefs and expectations about their child’s reading and academic ability on Kindergarten children’s (N = 61) phonological sensitivity and letter knowledge and on Grade 1 word reading. The results showed that after controlling for nonverbal IQ and vocabulary, parent teaching activities prior to Kindergarten predicted significantly letter knowledge; parents’ beliefs about their children’s reading ability predicted significantly phonological sensitivity and Kindergarten word reading; and children’s task-focused behaviour predicted significantly letter knowledge and Kindergarten and Grade 1 word reading The third paper reports on a cross-linguistic longitudinal study that examines the environmental, behavioural, and cognitive predictors of Grade 3 word reading fluency, passage comprehension, and spelling in children learning to read in an orthographically inconsistent language (English) and in an orthographically consistent language (Greek). Results indicated that home literacy factors did not directly predict Grade 3 reading or spelling skills for either the English- or Greek-speaking samples. Task-focused behaviour directly predicted spelling for the Greek-speaking sample. Vocabulary was more important for reading and spelling in English than in Greek. Letter knowledge was more important for spelling in Greek and for passage comprehension in English.
License granted by Kathy Stephenson ( on 2011-01-10T21:20:02Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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