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A complex inquiry into preschoolers' multiliteracy practices at home

  • Author / Creator
    Wong, Suzanna, So Har
  • The increased use of digital devices in the home for work, communication, entertainment, and information searching makes these devices attractive to young children, who learn to communicate by observing and interacting with family members. This qualitative study examined 11 Canadian and Australian preschoolers’ (ages 3 to 5) multiliteracy practices at home and their parents’ perspectives of these multiliteracy practices. The following questions guided my study: What literacy practices are preschool children engaging with in their home environments? How are multiliteracy practices influencing the home lives of these children? What are parents’ attitudes toward their children’s engagement of multiliteracy practices in the home, including “traditional” and “new” literacy practices? How are parents within the study interpreting their children’s home literacy practices? Drawing on a complexity-thinking perspective, this study examined the complex phenomena of young children’s literacy practices and learning at home. Complexity thinking understands the world as an integrated whole, fundamentally interdependent, interconnected, and intertwined, rather than as a disconnected collection of small parts (Bateson, 1979; Capra, 1996; Maturana & Varela, 1992). I used Green’s (1988, 2012) three dimensions (3D) of literacy as a conceptual frame to understand and interpret my data because it views literacy practices holistically. Complexity-thinking perspectives and Green’s 3D model provided strong theoretical and conceptual frames, useful language, visual images, and metaphors to explore the complex learning systems of young children in this study. The data collection tools I used were participant observations, field notes, informal interviews, and conversations with participants. Video and audio recordings of home observations and interviews were transcribed, and field notes were juxtaposed with the video and audio transcripts. I analyzed the data at both macro level, to identify general patterns across domains, and micro level, to capture details of individual children’s engagement with multiliteracy practices at home. Three emergent themes are illustrated in research vignettes which revealed in my study that (a) the children are using a wide range of technology tools within their everyday literacy practices; (b) their multiliteracy practices, learning, and playing are all interconnected and intertwined within their daily lives; and (c) their access to and use of technology tools at home are intricately linked with their parents’ attitudes and dispositions toward new technologies. The insights gained from my study have the potential to provide valuable information for early childhood educators, policy makers, and curriculum builders in connecting children’s home literacy experiences with in-school literacy practices. A deeper understanding of preschool-aged children’s home literacy practices will be central to scaffold their transition from home to formal schooling.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2016-06
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3862BH3G
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Doctoral
  • Department
    • Department of Elementary Education
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Laidlaw, Linda (Elementary Education)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Branch-Mueller, Jennifer (Elementary Education)
    • Laidlaw, Linda (Elementary Education)
    • Dunn, William (Secondary Education)
    • Kirova, Anna (Elementary Education)
    • Dooley, Karen (School of Curriculum, Queensland University of Technology)
    • Wiltse, Lynne (Elementary Education)