This research aimed to investigate the impact of variation in eBook design, specifically hotspots, on caregiver-preschooler dyads’ communications about mathematics story content during shared reading. Two eBooks were designed and compared. Hotspots in the math eBook guided joint attention to mathematically-related activated features; hotspots in the emotion-action eBook guided joint attention to emotions and actions of the characters. The hotspots were matched in number and type across both eBooks. The narrative and illustrations remained consistent between the two eBooks. The dyads’ interaction with different types of hotspots; and their use of spoken utterances and gestures were compared across the two conditions. Thirty-two dyads participated in this study; 16 in each group. Findings showed that, in both groups, all caregivers and children used spoken utterances and gestures, albeit to different extent, to express the mathematics content in the narrative. However, spoken utterances and gestures that aligned with mathematics occurred more frequently among dyads in the math condition compared to the other condition. Further, caregivers in the math condition responded to hotspots by asking high-level cognitive questions, and both caregivers and children in this condition reacted mostly by repeating what was heard. In the emotion-action condition, dyads reacted emotively to the hotspots. Findings also showed that dyads in the math condition – as opposed to their peers - tended to discuss the embedded mathematics activities. Thematic analysis was done to explore in more depth the interplay between the acting on the hotspot and the narrative concerning the communication about mathematics as the dyads discussed two activities embedded in the story. Three themes emerged regarding scaffolding of mathematical ideas, co-construction of ideas, as well as seeking self-discovery and agency of the child. Findings from the Caregiver Satisfaction Questionnaire showed differences across conditions in regards to the children’s attention; and similarities in perceptions of the children’s enjoyment and willingness to share eBooks in the future. Findings from this research raise implications for the future designs of eBooks; particularly regarding the content and placement of the hotspots.
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Thesis advisor: Winne, Phil
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