01 Using tablets in a prekindergarten classroom to foster phonological awareness
Today’s young children are exposed to a variety of digital technologies in their home and school environments. While the presence of these technologies is increasing in US prekindergarten classrooms, teachers must critically analyze the role these tools will play in the quest to provide early learners with developmentally appropriate practice. The benefit of using tablet-based applications, compared to traditional concrete materials, to teach phonological awareness skills is the focus of this study conducted in 2014. The sample consisted of 27 four- and five-year-old children, who attended a half-day early childhood program, 5 days a week, in a Midwestern university laboratory school in the US. Children participated in similar small-group instruction once or twice a week for 4 months, from September to December, targeting phonological awareness skills. A comparison was made between those who were instructed using the traditional materials and those who used tablet-based applications. Both groups were found to make progress toward mastering the tested skills. There was no significant difference between the two groups’ acquisition of these skills. Students were able to achieve targeted phonological awareness skills using either method of instruction.