The task of the lit review for our project has felt like a giant thundercloud over my head. Finding articles initially felt like looking for a needle in a haystack, so I thought I would put it off until hearing the presentation from the librarian. Even after watching the presentation a second time, it was still very difficult to pinpoint current articles that apply to my area of study: Use of technology to enhance parent participation in a home literacy intervention program. I decided to divide my search into these two topics:
Now that I have read through all of my articles about home programs and their effect on early literacy, I’ve noticed a pattern that I wasn’t expecting. I think I have heard so often that reading to your children is the number one thing you can do to ensure academic success for their futures. However, I learned that it’s not that simple.
The author names that most frequently popped up in my searches on this topic were Senechal, Ogg, Whitehurst. The only problem with that, is that not all of the articles by these seminal authors were current. Therefore, I only used more current authors, who quoted the aforementioned researchers ultimately anyway. Senechal’s well known research on her proposed “Home Literacy Model” found that a program which focuses on parents’ informal, or dialogic, storybook reading to children will result in gains for those children in the area of vocabulary and comprehension, and not other literacy skills. Programs with a focus on parents’ formal teaching of letters and sounds will result in gains in those specific areas, but not vocabulary or comprehension. Other authors concluded similarly. I found a very informational article that was actually a review on different studies on the topic, with conclusions about patterns seen within those studies. Within this article, a study was reviewed that included a program for parents that focused on storytelling. Interestingly, in SES groups, the storytelling focus produced even more gains in vocabulary and narrative skills than dialogic reading focused interventions.
In the area of using technology to increase parent involvement, few author names popped up more than once. In fact, in my search, only one name did: Christine Olmstead. Her article originally appeared in my search as a dissertation. I later discovered that it had been published in a journal and was thrilled to learn that it was peer reviewed. The article was published in 2013, and did not seem as current as I had hoped. However, the author does address the current trends toward technology use in the classroom and at home, and how the next step is using that trend as a means to engage parents. Her study examines how both teachers and parents feel about using different types of technology for different purposes in communicating.
For example, most parents and teachers feet that email is an acceptable form of communication for updates or information about the class, while they both preferred phone calls or face-to-face for communicating about behavior issues. Interestingly, her study reported that the majority of parents in her study would like to receive text messages about their child’s progress, while the majority of teachers did NOT want to use texts to communicate. I believe this is because the article was written before apps like Remind existed--apps that don’t reveal the teachers’ cell phone numbers and allow for communication on teachers’ terms.
In two studies, the authors refer to a texting "nudge" as a behavior modification tool to encourage parents to regularly participate in a literacy program with their children. These studies boasted significant results in improving student literacy scores by causing parents to participate in the literacy activities more often. These were very exciting to read because it resembles what I want to do at my school very closely. The texting program used in these studies was piloted in the bay area and was developed into a commercially sold program called "READY4K!"
One study I read showed no significant effect on student learning or attendance after applying a text message program for parent communication. However, this study was done on the secondary level and the text messages were only informational (assignments, behavior issues, etc...).
After reading all of these articles, it has become so clear that studies can only give you a snapshot of one kind of narrow circumstance in one place, at one time. However, patterns can be sometimes found when you put pieces of the puzzle together and do extensive searches on specific topics. I found that the article I enjoyed most was actually a review of many studies done on a topic similar to mine. If I had more time, or knew this before, I would specifically search for more reviews like that one!