The Effects of E-books on Young Children’s Story Comprehension and Vocabulary Growth
MetadataShow full item record
Background: Experimental studies investigating the effects of multimedia e-book enhancements such as animation, music and sounds, showed beneficial effects on 4- to 6-year-old children’s learning. Problem Statement: However, few studies have included younger children (3-4 year old) in investigating the effects of e-book features on their story comprehension and word learning, nor have studies fully unraveled the effects of the various multimedia e-book features. Purpose: The purpose of the current study was to disentangle the effects of animation and music/sounds on children’s story comprehension and vocabulary word learning, and investigate whether the effects of the enhancements in digital e-books vary with age groups. Methods: One hundred and thirty-six children from two different school age groups participated in the study. Seventy 3-4 year old children and sixty-six 5-6 year old children from 8 child care centers and elementary schools in the Southwest part of the United States were stratified for age and center, then randomly assigned to four experimental conditions. A balanced design was approximated in the four conditions with both the illustrations in the books (with or without animation) and (with or without music and sounds). The children read the same version of the story three times within three weeks. The Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, fourth Edition (PPVT-4) screening assessment assessed children’s prior vocabulary level and was used as a covariate. The posttests included book-based receptive and expressive vocabulary acquisition tests and comprehension of the target story. Data Analysis: Multiple linear regression was used to analyze which multimedia enhancement - animation or music and sounds, or a combination of both - was more effective to enhance learning, and whether the benefit from e-book enhancements varied by age groups. Results: Enhanced stories were more effective in supporting younger children’s story comprehension than a story without enhancements. Targeting older children (5-6 year old), enhancements were in particular beneficial for promoting expressive vocabulary acquisition. Either animation or music and sounds was a more favorable format than the combination of animation and music and sound in one format in promoting younger children’s story comprehension and all children’s receptive and expressive vocabulary. Discussion: The findings align with Mayer’s (2009) temporal congruity principle and redundancy principle of the cognitive theory of multimedia learning. Practical implications are a better definition of well-designed e-books to implement in the school curriculum and family literacy, to consider by app designers when designing effective and educational e-books.