Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies


Language & Literacy

First Advisor

Diane DeFord


The initial purpose of the study was to better understand the effect of book genre (fiction or informational) and text choice on the spontaneous language production of African American, preschool boys from low SES households. Its methodological approach was action research that consisted of teacher/child book sharing with three participants during one-on-one, 30 minute sessions over a period of 14 weeks. Discussion during these sessions centered on the participants' book choice and were audio recorded. The transcripts of these recordings became case studies that were analyzed for behavioral patterns of both participants and teacher. Discovery of such patterns revealed changes in the participants' language and participatory behaviors and in both the teacher's language use and in her instructional approach. The application of these findings, however, were not congruent with the initial purpose of the study, but rather revealed explicit teacher behaviors that appeared to encourage the participants' engagement in dialogue, and their unsolicited, independent effort to bootstrap and expand their own language learning. Recommendations cited (a) the need for a language acquisition course in university teacher education curricula; (b) school district in-service opportunities for early childhood educators and day care personnel that provide the scope and sequence of early language learning; (c) additional in-service opportunities that provide explicit strategies for facilitating both language use and expansion, including knowledge of Academic Language and novel vocabulary; (d) the use of a whole language teaching approach; (e) minimal use of computer programs to teach early literacy skills; (f) advocacy of district, state, and national academic standards that focus on age-appropriate skills for preschool children with age-appropriate instructional strategies.


© 2014, Virginia Akright Miller

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