Boltman, A. (October 2001)
Dissertation directed by: Professor Allison Druin College of Education, Human Development Institute of Advanced Computer Studies This study examined the elaboration and recall of children's stories through analysis of the content and structure of children's retelling of a well-known wordless story book, Frog, Where Are You? (Mayer, 1969). This picture book, which has been used in many international studies, (e.g., Berman, 1988; Trabasso et al., 1992), was presented to 72 children (ages 6-7) in England and Sweden. The technology that was utilized in this study was KidPad (Druin et al., 1997), a children's spatial storytelling application. Each child was presented with one of three conditions: (a) a paper version of a picture book, (b) a non-spatial computer presentation of this book with traditional hyperlinks, or (c) a spatial computer presentation of this book with animated panning and zooming between pictures. The study participants were asked to retell the story first with the story technology in front of them, and then without the story technology. Children's story elaboration and recall were coded for structure and content using two previously developed instruments (Berman, 1988; Trabasso et al., 1992). For structure, evidence was provided by text length, number of references to plot advancing events and of plot summations, types of connectivity markers, and the use of verb tense. For content, evidence was offered by relationships, initiating events, attempts, purposeful attempts, failures, and subordinate and superordinate goals. Multivariate analyses of variance were performed focusing on media type, gender, and language. Results revealed that media type was statistically significant in every major category of measure, while language was significant only in the structure measures. There were no significant gender differences and there were no interaction effects. Results illustrated that the spatial computer presentation assisted in many storytelling areas, with greater benefits in elaboration than in recall. Children's stories showed more complex story structure and a greater understanding of initiating events and goals. This study was a part of KidStory, a European Union-funded, 3-year international research initiative (i3, ESE project # 29310) creating innovative technologies for and with young children.