Emergent Comprehension A Literature Review

December, 2011
Dianna Sand
Foundation Research
Research Highlights
What’s Next?
Emergent literacy can be defined as the
beginnings of understanding of literacy ideas
which lead to conventional literacy (Dooley,
Emergent comprehension encompasses a
child's experiences and understanding prior
to "conventional text comprehension" (Dooley
and Matthews, 2009,p. 273).
What constitutes early childhood literacy skills?
What are the definitions of emergent literacy and
early comprehension?
Is early childhood comprehension different from
conventional comprehension?
Which instructional strategies could best help to
develop early childhood literacy skills and
National Early Literacy Panel
Developing Early Literacy
Appropriate Practice
Top tier variables
produce medium to
large predictive
◦ alphabet knowledge
◦ phonological awareness
◦ rapid automatic naming of
letters or digits
◦ rapid automatic naming of
objects or colors, writing
or writing name
◦ phonological memory
Second tier variables
produce moderate
correlations with at
least one measure of
later literacy
concepts about print
print knowledge
reading readiness
oral language
visual processing
Criticism of NELP
Broader interpretation of literacy
in the younger years
Narrowness of the predictor
variables and cautions around
basing pre-k instruction only on
the top tier variables
Comprehensive approach for
pre-k instruction which includes
both skills and language
development strategies –
including ELLs, disabilities – not
Language, vocabulary,
conceptual, and background
knowledge development – not
Agreement with NELP
Need for research in
areas such as:
◦ Oral language
development and
correlations to later /
conventional literacy
◦ Early comprehension
Dooley & Matthews (2009) and Dooley (2010)
 Identified four phases characterizing
children’s approaches to books:
◦ Book as Prop – prior to age 2 into early age 3 -used in play, like toys, mistreated
◦ Book as Invitation – late age 2 into age 3 – books
represent not only physical object by have abstract
meaning . . . “the bug book”
◦ Book as Script – turning 3 – begin to treat books
like books: topic content, image and voice
◦ Book as Text – turning 4 – indicated attention to
print, pointing to words, approximated reading
(even looking at beginning sounds)
1. Young
children interact with texts in ways
different from those of older children and
2. Young children’s symbolic understanding
develops across time via interactions with
significant others.
3. Young children’s meaning construction begins
at birth via experience with primary caregivers
and other important adults.
(Dooley, 2010, p. 121.)
Modality of Play: play integration as it relates
to literacy learning in preschool settings
 Nicolopoulou, Barbosa de Sà, Ilgaz, and Brockmeyer
 Moon and Reifel (2008)
Modality of Movement
 Phillips, Gorton, Pinciotti, and Sachdev (2010) obtained
improvement across several components of the
Pennsylvania Early Learning Standards
 DeBruin-Parecki & Squibb (2011) looked at teaching
comprehension strategies, movement was a
 Haggerty (2010) three-year research project in New
Zealand –”investigated children’s use of different
literacy modes” (p. 178).
Research Highlight: Haggerty, on multimodal literacy
“We suggest that
connecting with
the significance
that these modes
and experiences
held for Joe
enabled him to
more fully
contribute to and
benefit from the
curriculum. (p.
Joe doing a wheelie on the tricycle.
Photo of Joe cornering on two wheels.
Research Highlight: Haggerty, on multimodal
“This photograph
transformed how we
viewed Joe’s riding,
making us reassess
the scale of Joe’s
bide riding interests
and skills” (p. 184).
Three-year old Joe on his motorbike!
Photo of Joe riding at motorcross.
Research Highlight: Haggerty, on multimodal literacy
“We have come to
more fully
appreciate the
permeability of the
boundaries between
what constitutes
literacies, nontraditional
literacies, and
‘non’-literacies” p.
Photo of Joe and bike mid-air
American Sign Language
◦ Weiss (2008 Doctoral Dissertation): improvements for
language-delayed students in receptive, expressive
language and comprehension.
◦ Soundy & Drucker (2010) – how can children create and
express meaning (comprehension) through art?
◦ Bolduc (2008) literature review of the effects of music
instruction on emergent literacy capacities among preschool children; twenty years of research; music is a
complementary approach to develop listening and
analysis abilities as well as “linguistic abilities: auditory
perception, phonological memory, and metacognitive
knowledge.” (Conclusion Section).
Research Highlight: Soundy & Drucker, on Picture
Zalea --- Tracks in the snow
Research Highlight: Soundy & Drucker, on Picture Partners
“‘Peter is making
tracks.’ [Zalea uses her
finger to trace the
curving lines.] Then
she continues, ‘Peter
wants to make a snow
angel, his favorite
thing.’ As she points to
the footprints leading
to the impression in
the snow, she chants,
‘Crunch, crunch,
“Emergent Comprehension” is ripe for
Multimodal and multisensory approaches to
teaching help in development of early
Interesting things
Testing instruments used were all different
Cognitive research / brain functioning is hot
More research on emergent comprehension
On the verge of change
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Dickenson, D. K., Golinkoff, R. M., & Hirsh-Pasek, K. (2010). Speaking out for
language: Why language is central to reading development. Educational
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setting. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 18(3), 177-189.
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