An investigation of intergenerational relationships occurring within a shared reading program




MacDonald, Margaret Joan

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The interaction patterns of 4 parent readers and 4 senior readers were investigated using grounded theory methodology during an intergenerational shared book reading activity with 16, 5 and 6 year olds. Parent and senior volunteers were observed during one on one reading with two different children who were divided up by gender using stratified random assignment to read with either a parent aged reader or a senior reader. To capture authentic interactions between the volunteer readers and children no preliminary training took place. Data were collected during pilot, pre-program, program, and post-program conditions. Open coding using a constant comparison method was used to establish patterns across conditions in the early phases of data collection. During open coding provisional categories were identified. Data from video observations, parent journals and interviews were then interpreted using axial coding methods to analyze the context, conditions and action/interaction strategies that were present and to determine connections between categories. From this information, broad categories were recombined based on trends and the observed antecedent and situational features. Selective coding was then used to test the provisional phenomenon. This was done using coding to identify any changes that took place between volunteer readers and each of the two children that he or she read with. The central phenomenon of scaffolding was identified across intervening conditions. The phenomenon of scaffolding was defined as a query and response pattern initiated by the adult, and used to direct the child's focus of attention during the literacy act. This took place as part of a transactional process where the elements of (a) the book being read, (b) the child and (c) the volunteer reader mutually conditioned and were conditioned by the other elements. The qualities that the reader brought to the transaction tended to differ when comparing senior and parent readers. The main differences observed occurred in three clusters of (a) Timing, Responsiveness, and Pace, (b) Use of Expression, Colloquialisms, Articulation and (c) Gestures, Feedback Methods and Range of Strategies. The pace of the senior readers was found to be slower than that of the parent aged readers. The senior readers also tended to make use of distinct pronunciation and did not use colloquialisms. They were also more inclined to use a wider range of supportive strategies. Both the senior readers and the parent readers were unaware of most of the strategies that they used to support the children. Further research on the question of the transactional process and the qualities brought to the shared reading experience by senior volunteer readers is required. Replication of the present study is suggested across a variety of conditions with different types volunteer readers and children.



Shared reading program, Intergenerational relationships, Education