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BronwynThomas
17/5/2015
Summary Analysis Paper
The purpose of this study was to determine the specific effects that a ‘print program’
would have for children from a low socio-economic (SES) background. The study did not aim to
examine whether the environmental print would be beneficial as this has already been
exemplified through previous studies conducted. Therefore, the researchers looked at specific
beneficial outcomes. There have been few studies that really focus on the direct use of
environmental print in fostering emergent literacy skills and therefore, this study looks to expand
on previous findings. Neumann conducted a study in 2013 that aimed to look at the use of
environmental print in fostering literacy skills; however, the study only looked at children from
mid to high SES backgrounds. The present study will look at the benefits of environmental print
in developing literacy skills in specifically, low-SES children.
This study used a randomized control design that incorporated pre and post-tests. The
study was considered ‘randomized’ because the participants were randomly assigned to either the
environmental print group or the control group. The study used a random-number generator
while assigning children to a condition. The children were then further randomly assigned into
smaller instructional groups within the conditions. Each group had 3 to 5 children. The study is
controlled because a variable is being manipulated. The researchers are manipulating the use of
conditions. Children are randomly allocated to a group. They are controlling the experience the
children will have over the next 8 weeks.
The demographic used for this study was preschool children. The researchers used 50
preschool children from Queensland, Australia. There were various requirements that the
children participants needed to meet in order to take part in the study. Children with
developmental delays or who spoke a first language other than English were not included in the
BronwynThomas
17/5/2015
study. The children also needed to be ‘pre-readers’. To determine this, the researchers screened
the participants using 10 high frequency words. All participants had to come from low-SES
households. The families had a low Socio-Economic Index for Areas (SEIFA) of 883. Specific to
Australia, any suburb with a SEIFA index below 1000 is considered a low-income and
disadvantaged area. Overall, the participants scored “below the national average on education
and occupation factors” (Neumann, 2014, p. 312).
The treatment is the 8 week, multisensory environmental print program. The program
draws on the visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic senses to “learn about letters on
environmental print items.” (Neumann, 2014, p. 312). The environment was very relaxed for the
children in the environmental print condition. They sat on a mat in close proximity to the
researcher who sat on a nearby chair. In the first five weeks, cereal boxes were used as the
environmental print. They would act as an aid to ‘teach’ the children specific letters. For
example, in week two, a Fruit Loops cereal box was used to teach the children the letters ‘F’, ‘T’
and ‘P’. Each of these sessions lasted 30 minutes long. The researchers would incorporate songs
and movement to assist the participants with letter learning. The children would look and point to
the letter, listened and labelled the letter, would make the shape of the letter using their arms and
lastly, trace the letter with their finger. These activities drew on the visual, auditory, kinesthetic
and tactile senses, respectively. The children were then given a writing book and a pencil. The
researchers would model the letter by drawing it on a magnetic sketch board while saying its
name and sound. They would direct the children while the children were drew the letters. This
took 10 minutes to complete. The following weeks (post week 5) were used to practice the
already ‘learned’ letters. The children would learn songs incorporating the letters. This would
BronwynThomas
17/5/2015
take 5 minutes. They would also play games such as finding letters in the environment and
tracing them. This would take 15 minutes.
The researchers used various date collection measures to test the children on letter name
and sound knowledge, numeral name, letter writing, phoneme awareness, print concepts and
environmental print reading. To collect data on letter name and sound knowledge, the
researchers showed the children individual signs, each one presenting a large uppercase letter.
The letters were presented in random order. They were asked if they knew the letter name or the
sound the letter makes. Each correct answer would gain a participant one point. They repeated
this test with all lowercase letters. To test the children on the numeral names (0-9). They were
asked the name of each numeral. Each correct answer was worth one point. To test letter writing
the children were asked by the researcher to write 15 letters (the researcher would specify which
letter to write and when). Each correct letter written was worth one point. Initial phoneme
awareness was tested by providing the children with 10 monosyllabic words. The children were
asked to say the initial phoneme (the first individual sound of the word). The participants were
given three practice rounds prior. When testing print concepts, the children were asked to answer
questions regarding print concepts (where to start reading, directionality etc.). Every correct
answer was worth one point. There were 10 available points in total. To test environmental print
reading, the researchers showed the participants familiar print items (road signage, grocery store
items) and asked them to name the items. Each item was presented in a random order and in full
context.
The principal component analysis (PCA) was used to analyze the nine measures
mentioned above. For the pre-test analysis, no relationship was found between gender and group
membership. The researchers conducted independent t-tests which showed that there were no
BronwynThomas
17/5/2015
significant differences between the groups in child age, maternal/paternal occupation or
maternal/paternal education. No significant differences were found between groups in the pre-
tests on print knowledge, print sound or print awareness. Univariate ANCOVAs were used to
“examine differences between post-test scores in the intervention and control group” (Neumann,
2014, p. 314). These tests indicated that the participants in the environmental print group
performed significantly better on print knowledge, sound knowledge and print awareness. The
most significant impact was seen in print awareness. The participants in the environmental print
group largely improved in their ability to read environmental print, understand concepts about
letters, words etc. There were smaller impacts seen in letter sound and phoneme awareness skills
after the environmental print program.
Some conclusions that the researchers came to were that the program was effective for
low-SES children in developing their print awareness and print knowledge skills. In other words,
exposure to environmental print is beneficial for these two skills. The results also suggested that
exposure to environmental print may be beneficial for developing sound knowledge skill but to a
lesser extent. Overall, the study results suggested there is some “practical relevance” for the
environmental print program for low-SES children, in particular, preschoolers. (Neumann, 2014,
p. 315). The logographic reading (using the cereal boxes and other familiar items) was seen as
having a far lesser impact on the children as their attention was drawn to the logo instead of the
print. However, the researchers looked at their data along with other sets of data which suggested
that logographic reading can be a good stepping stone to partial alphabet knowledge (Neumann,
2014, p. 315). Another conclusion that the researchers came to is the possibility that the
multisensory aspect of the study helped the participants in the environmental print group develop
their print knowledge. It was also thought that the exposure of numerals on the products shown
BronwynThomas
17/5/2015
to children (nutrition information on cereal boxes etc.) contributed to a deepening knowledge of
numerals in the environmental print group. Lastly, as mentioned briefly earlier, there are no
concrete conclusions made about developing sound knowledge through the environmental print
program. The researchers recommend that the program would have to be implemented for a
longer period of time for there to be an effect on sound knowledge. Overall, it’s recommended
that schools or communities serving low income families should incorporate meaningful
environmental print freely.
The first noticeable limitation in this study is the small sample size making it hard to
generalize results to children and communities outside of the sample community. There were a
few families who held higher education degrees along with having a professional occupation.
These factors suggest the families are potentially of higher-SES backgrounds; however, are
living in this low income neighborhood because of other factors. This may have skewed the
results of the study. The environmental print program was very short. It could be that exposure to
environmental print causes significant beneficial impacts for disadvantaged children but these
impacts weren’t apparent because the exposure needed to happen for a longer amount of time.
There was one instructor communicating with the children in both conditions. We cannot know
whether other teachers, external to the study, are capable of producing the same effects. The
researchers describe the importance of this study in regards to the children at home. It was seen
that children were more aware of letters and print in their surroundings at home. In other words,
there were unintended benefits of the study. Children had started pointing out letters they found
in the environmental print at home or outside their home. There is evidence to suggest that
parents who reference environmental print at home help develop a child’s emerging literacy
skills. Therefore, the transfer seen between the study and home can be seen as valuable. If
BronwynThomas
17/5/2015
parents are coached properly, there may be great benefits to a child’s literacy skills as they can
have consistent referencing to environmental print. This is more valuable to families of low-SES
as they have less access to formal print resources at home. If they are able to competently
reference print that’s found around the home, they could further develop their child’s literacy
skills.
This study helps readers to understand the importance of intervention, in particular,
intervention for children from low-SES communities. This study aimed at increasing the
awareness of more naturalistic ways to enhance a disadvantaged child’s chance of developing
literacy skills at the same rate as their advantaged counterparts. Neumann’s story not only
provides awareness of how beneficial the use of environmental print can be to a child’s
development, but also how we can utilize environmental print in an effective way. Vast amounts
of research has been conducted on the benefits of formal approaches to developing literacy skills;
however, this study took a more feasible approach for many. For low-SES families, gaining
access to a cereal box is much more realistic than gaining access to a great school with varied
and plentiful resources. Although research shows clear benefits of programs that take on a more
formal approach, far less research has been conducted in the area of environmental print leaving
the question of how beneficial our environment can be to our learning, unanswered. This study
contributes a valuable message to this area of research; parents and educators can compensate for
a child’s slow literacy development by using the environmental print that is already prominent
around them. It’s affordable and easy to implement. Although the results of Neumann’s study
were promising, Neumann recognizes the vast limitations of the study. To really support the use
of environmental print as a tool for literacy development, the study would need to be completed
in various locations with larger sample sizes and various ages of participants. If similar impacts
BronwynThomas
17/5/2015
were seen, developing programs that teaches professionals and caregivers about the use of
environmental print would be much more likely and could potentially decrease the
developmental gap between low-SES children and their peers.
BronwynThomas
17/5/2015
Bibliography
Neumann, M. (2014). Using environmental print to foster emergent literacy in children from a
low-SES community. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 29(3), 310-318.

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Effects of environmental print program on literacy skills

  • 1. BronwynThomas 17/5/2015 Summary Analysis Paper The purpose of this study was to determine the specific effects that a ‘print program’ would have for children from a low socio-economic (SES) background. The study did not aim to examine whether the environmental print would be beneficial as this has already been exemplified through previous studies conducted. Therefore, the researchers looked at specific beneficial outcomes. There have been few studies that really focus on the direct use of environmental print in fostering emergent literacy skills and therefore, this study looks to expand on previous findings. Neumann conducted a study in 2013 that aimed to look at the use of environmental print in fostering literacy skills; however, the study only looked at children from mid to high SES backgrounds. The present study will look at the benefits of environmental print in developing literacy skills in specifically, low-SES children. This study used a randomized control design that incorporated pre and post-tests. The study was considered ‘randomized’ because the participants were randomly assigned to either the environmental print group or the control group. The study used a random-number generator while assigning children to a condition. The children were then further randomly assigned into smaller instructional groups within the conditions. Each group had 3 to 5 children. The study is controlled because a variable is being manipulated. The researchers are manipulating the use of conditions. Children are randomly allocated to a group. They are controlling the experience the children will have over the next 8 weeks. The demographic used for this study was preschool children. The researchers used 50 preschool children from Queensland, Australia. There were various requirements that the children participants needed to meet in order to take part in the study. Children with developmental delays or who spoke a first language other than English were not included in the
  • 2. BronwynThomas 17/5/2015 study. The children also needed to be ‘pre-readers’. To determine this, the researchers screened the participants using 10 high frequency words. All participants had to come from low-SES households. The families had a low Socio-Economic Index for Areas (SEIFA) of 883. Specific to Australia, any suburb with a SEIFA index below 1000 is considered a low-income and disadvantaged area. Overall, the participants scored “below the national average on education and occupation factors” (Neumann, 2014, p. 312). The treatment is the 8 week, multisensory environmental print program. The program draws on the visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic senses to “learn about letters on environmental print items.” (Neumann, 2014, p. 312). The environment was very relaxed for the children in the environmental print condition. They sat on a mat in close proximity to the researcher who sat on a nearby chair. In the first five weeks, cereal boxes were used as the environmental print. They would act as an aid to ‘teach’ the children specific letters. For example, in week two, a Fruit Loops cereal box was used to teach the children the letters ‘F’, ‘T’ and ‘P’. Each of these sessions lasted 30 minutes long. The researchers would incorporate songs and movement to assist the participants with letter learning. The children would look and point to the letter, listened and labelled the letter, would make the shape of the letter using their arms and lastly, trace the letter with their finger. These activities drew on the visual, auditory, kinesthetic and tactile senses, respectively. The children were then given a writing book and a pencil. The researchers would model the letter by drawing it on a magnetic sketch board while saying its name and sound. They would direct the children while the children were drew the letters. This took 10 minutes to complete. The following weeks (post week 5) were used to practice the already ‘learned’ letters. The children would learn songs incorporating the letters. This would
  • 3. BronwynThomas 17/5/2015 take 5 minutes. They would also play games such as finding letters in the environment and tracing them. This would take 15 minutes. The researchers used various date collection measures to test the children on letter name and sound knowledge, numeral name, letter writing, phoneme awareness, print concepts and environmental print reading. To collect data on letter name and sound knowledge, the researchers showed the children individual signs, each one presenting a large uppercase letter. The letters were presented in random order. They were asked if they knew the letter name or the sound the letter makes. Each correct answer would gain a participant one point. They repeated this test with all lowercase letters. To test the children on the numeral names (0-9). They were asked the name of each numeral. Each correct answer was worth one point. To test letter writing the children were asked by the researcher to write 15 letters (the researcher would specify which letter to write and when). Each correct letter written was worth one point. Initial phoneme awareness was tested by providing the children with 10 monosyllabic words. The children were asked to say the initial phoneme (the first individual sound of the word). The participants were given three practice rounds prior. When testing print concepts, the children were asked to answer questions regarding print concepts (where to start reading, directionality etc.). Every correct answer was worth one point. There were 10 available points in total. To test environmental print reading, the researchers showed the participants familiar print items (road signage, grocery store items) and asked them to name the items. Each item was presented in a random order and in full context. The principal component analysis (PCA) was used to analyze the nine measures mentioned above. For the pre-test analysis, no relationship was found between gender and group membership. The researchers conducted independent t-tests which showed that there were no
  • 4. BronwynThomas 17/5/2015 significant differences between the groups in child age, maternal/paternal occupation or maternal/paternal education. No significant differences were found between groups in the pre- tests on print knowledge, print sound or print awareness. Univariate ANCOVAs were used to “examine differences between post-test scores in the intervention and control group” (Neumann, 2014, p. 314). These tests indicated that the participants in the environmental print group performed significantly better on print knowledge, sound knowledge and print awareness. The most significant impact was seen in print awareness. The participants in the environmental print group largely improved in their ability to read environmental print, understand concepts about letters, words etc. There were smaller impacts seen in letter sound and phoneme awareness skills after the environmental print program. Some conclusions that the researchers came to were that the program was effective for low-SES children in developing their print awareness and print knowledge skills. In other words, exposure to environmental print is beneficial for these two skills. The results also suggested that exposure to environmental print may be beneficial for developing sound knowledge skill but to a lesser extent. Overall, the study results suggested there is some “practical relevance” for the environmental print program for low-SES children, in particular, preschoolers. (Neumann, 2014, p. 315). The logographic reading (using the cereal boxes and other familiar items) was seen as having a far lesser impact on the children as their attention was drawn to the logo instead of the print. However, the researchers looked at their data along with other sets of data which suggested that logographic reading can be a good stepping stone to partial alphabet knowledge (Neumann, 2014, p. 315). Another conclusion that the researchers came to is the possibility that the multisensory aspect of the study helped the participants in the environmental print group develop their print knowledge. It was also thought that the exposure of numerals on the products shown
  • 5. BronwynThomas 17/5/2015 to children (nutrition information on cereal boxes etc.) contributed to a deepening knowledge of numerals in the environmental print group. Lastly, as mentioned briefly earlier, there are no concrete conclusions made about developing sound knowledge through the environmental print program. The researchers recommend that the program would have to be implemented for a longer period of time for there to be an effect on sound knowledge. Overall, it’s recommended that schools or communities serving low income families should incorporate meaningful environmental print freely. The first noticeable limitation in this study is the small sample size making it hard to generalize results to children and communities outside of the sample community. There were a few families who held higher education degrees along with having a professional occupation. These factors suggest the families are potentially of higher-SES backgrounds; however, are living in this low income neighborhood because of other factors. This may have skewed the results of the study. The environmental print program was very short. It could be that exposure to environmental print causes significant beneficial impacts for disadvantaged children but these impacts weren’t apparent because the exposure needed to happen for a longer amount of time. There was one instructor communicating with the children in both conditions. We cannot know whether other teachers, external to the study, are capable of producing the same effects. The researchers describe the importance of this study in regards to the children at home. It was seen that children were more aware of letters and print in their surroundings at home. In other words, there were unintended benefits of the study. Children had started pointing out letters they found in the environmental print at home or outside their home. There is evidence to suggest that parents who reference environmental print at home help develop a child’s emerging literacy skills. Therefore, the transfer seen between the study and home can be seen as valuable. If
  • 6. BronwynThomas 17/5/2015 parents are coached properly, there may be great benefits to a child’s literacy skills as they can have consistent referencing to environmental print. This is more valuable to families of low-SES as they have less access to formal print resources at home. If they are able to competently reference print that’s found around the home, they could further develop their child’s literacy skills. This study helps readers to understand the importance of intervention, in particular, intervention for children from low-SES communities. This study aimed at increasing the awareness of more naturalistic ways to enhance a disadvantaged child’s chance of developing literacy skills at the same rate as their advantaged counterparts. Neumann’s story not only provides awareness of how beneficial the use of environmental print can be to a child’s development, but also how we can utilize environmental print in an effective way. Vast amounts of research has been conducted on the benefits of formal approaches to developing literacy skills; however, this study took a more feasible approach for many. For low-SES families, gaining access to a cereal box is much more realistic than gaining access to a great school with varied and plentiful resources. Although research shows clear benefits of programs that take on a more formal approach, far less research has been conducted in the area of environmental print leaving the question of how beneficial our environment can be to our learning, unanswered. This study contributes a valuable message to this area of research; parents and educators can compensate for a child’s slow literacy development by using the environmental print that is already prominent around them. It’s affordable and easy to implement. Although the results of Neumann’s study were promising, Neumann recognizes the vast limitations of the study. To really support the use of environmental print as a tool for literacy development, the study would need to be completed in various locations with larger sample sizes and various ages of participants. If similar impacts
  • 7. BronwynThomas 17/5/2015 were seen, developing programs that teaches professionals and caregivers about the use of environmental print would be much more likely and could potentially decrease the developmental gap between low-SES children and their peers.
  • 8. BronwynThomas 17/5/2015 Bibliography Neumann, M. (2014). Using environmental print to foster emergent literacy in children from a low-SES community. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 29(3), 310-318.