Date of Award

2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Susan Rattan

Abstract

The Home Literacy Environment (HLE) is conceptualized as a multifarious interactive experience that occurs across multiple contexts and is a key component in emergent literacy acquisition (Schmitt, Simpson, & Friend, 2011; Wood, 2002). Past researchers have used conservative measures of the HLE that measure only one indicator (e.g. Storybook Title Identification), while others have included broad conceptualizations including demographic variables, parent-child text interactions, playing word games, and visiting the local library (Schmit et al., 2011; Levy, Gong, Hessels, Evans, & Jared, 2006; Lyytinen, Laasko, Poikkeus, 1998; Senechal, LeFevre, Thomas & Daly, 1992). The present study utilized a broad measure of the HLE to understand its relationship with emergent literacy skills for a sample of low-income kindergarten students.

A total of 76 parent participants completed a questionnaire regarding their child's home literacy experiences. Additionally, these children enrolled in kindergarten were assessed on measures of phonological awareness and early literacy skills. Results from the regression analyses suggest that literacy activities conducted in the home environment alone do not significantly explain the variance of phonological awareness or early literacy scores. However, after taking into account demographic variables, the HLE significantly explained an additional 5.3% of the variance in early literacy scores and 3.9% of the variance in phonological awareness scores. These findings indicate that demographic variables explain a large percentage of children's phonological awareness and early literacy scores, and may differentially impact emergent literacy skills. Implications for educators and school decision-makers are discussed, and suggestions for future research are considered.

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