by Pedro Ribeiro, M.Sc.


Short description

The reading ability is one of the most vital skills children need, to become successful learners and a crucial competence for a successful professional career as well as social participation.

This work aims at exploring the potential of digital technologies as reading instructional tools and at contributing to a better understanding of the integration of digital technology into primary school instructional practices. Researchers and educational professionals are aware of the importance of digital technologies, and many would welcome new digital tools to support, complement and evolve reading instructional practices. As a response to this awareness, this work focused on the design and evaluation of STREEN (Story Reading Environmental Enrichment), an augmented reading system intended to support reading aloud activities at primary school. STREEN provides engaging functionalities oriented to the promotion of vocabulary acquisition, reading motivation, fluency and comprehension.

A pivotal functionality of STREEN allows children to collaboratively create digital media effects that will be triggered when the reading activity takes place. STREEN consists of a mobile application (STREEN APP) running on the student’s tablet computers, a multimedia infrastructure composed by a projector, surround sound system and smart bulbs, and a multimedia controller (STREEN Controller) that runs on a computer server. Following a Design-Based Research methodology, the design - and later, the evaluation - of STREEN were carried in two German Primary schools for two years, involving four third-grade classes and four primary school teachers. Following a cyclical approach of designing, testing and redesigning the feedback provided by the children and the teachers were incorporated in the development of new prototypes.

The development of STREEN technology was followed by the design of a reading instruction that uses STREEN to support students to become competent and motivated readers and teachers to scaffold students. Following the STREEN based reading instruction design, one intervention at primary school was carried for eight weeks. This intervention was accomplished with an experimental third-grade class and also included two control third-grade classes. The intervention attempted to investigate the effect of a STREEN based reading instruction on students’ reading comprehension and motivation. Additionally, the intervention sought to identify from the student and teacher perspective what are the strengths and weaknesses of the developed STREEN based curricular activity.

The findings show that students in the STREEN based reading instruction group improved in word and sentence comprehension and lowered their task error rate. Furthermore, their intrinsic reading motivation increased while extrinsic reading motivation decreased significantly.

Regarding the students and the teachers’ perceived helpfulness of STREEN, the results suggest that the children consider STREEN helpful and capable of promoting reading motivation and fostering reading competencies.