Tag Archives: Comprehension

The feasibility of autonomous learning programs for reading proficiency using digital storytelling.

Peter Rabbit

The feasibility of autonomous learning programs for reading proficiency using digital storytelling.

The value and power of storytelling is recognized across cultures and disciplines. There is evidence that preliterate cultures relied on storytelling to educate (McDonald, 1998).

Foelske (2014:1) made a strong and true introduction statement-paragraph in her thesis that says:

Storytelling has always been a central part of learning for children in all cultures and a key to educating people through generations. From the early cultures of Egyptian hieroglyphics, Greek methodology, Aborigine rock art, and Native American elders oral traditions have been used to pass down history from one generation to the next (Roby, 2010). This storytelling history is a key tool in the teaching of literacy skills and other concepts, which are vital to being successful as an adult in society. Storytelling is a natural method of human communication and is prevalent in all aspects of human social interaction. People tend to make better sense of complex ideas, concepts, or information when it occurs via storytelling Foelske (2014:1).In this context, Sadik (2008) states storytelling can be used to enhance a student’s higher-order thinking and literacy skills. Using technology to enhance the storytelling in our classrooms is a key to learning today.

Porter (2005) stated that digital storytelling takes oral storytelling and engages a variety of technical tools to weave personal tales using images and graphics, along with music and sounds, together with the author’s own story voice to create a new engaging story. Through digital storytelling, oral proficiency and language development can be improved by using online self-study resources complementary to conventional classes (Kim, 2014:19).

This kind of Computer-Assisted Language Learning method is based on the constructivist theory of learning whereby learners are actively involved from birth in constructing their own personal meaning and understanding from their experiences (Kember, 1997; Williams & Burden (1997: 21). Each individual is motivated differently according to Williams & Burden (1997: 120):

People will make their own sense of the various external influences that surround them in ways that are personal to them, and they will act on their internal disposition and use their personal attributes in unique ways.

Therefore, what motivates one person by using online self-study resources will differ from individual to individual and it will differ from the level of achievement and proficiency each individual needs to reach in order to attain a previously set goal.

 Research evidence (Foelske, 2014:iii) showed that:

digital storytelling increases student motivation and engagement in student-centered projects. It has a positive effect on the improvement of literacy skills as well as students who normally struggle with writing a story. Students are more engaged when they are in control of reflecting, visualizing, and creating more meaningful digital stories to share with a large audience.

By using online technology, it allows the learner independence in learning and practicing opportunities of the new skills learnt (Kim, 2014:21). Research (Kim, 2014:21) revealed significant improvement in overall proficiency in terms of vocabulary, sentence complexity, and pronunciation.

Students already know and enjoy using technology and it is essential to provide in their need by incorporating technology to motivate them (Wawro, 2012). Motivated students take ownership of their learning, Robin (2008) states further that motivation is a critical ingredient for learning, therefore digital storytelling and similar technologies should be designed and conducted Foelske (2014:3).

In conclusion:

Students across the grade levels are engaged and motivated when they have the control of their learning which is extended beyond the four walls of a classroom (Sadik, 2008; Yang &Wu 2012). As teachers in a technological world, teaching digital natives, digital storytelling gives us the means to use technology to motivate and help those students who struggle with literacy while building 21st century literacy, thinking and technology skills Foelske (2014:27).


Foelske, M. 2014. Digital Storytelling: The impact on student engagement, motivation and academic learning. MA Thesis. University of Northern Iowa. 

Kember, D. 1997. A reconceptualisation of the research into university academics conceptions of teaching. Learning and Instruction, 7(3):255–275. 

Kim, S. H. 2014. Developing autonomous learning for oral proficiency using digital storytelling. Language Learning & Technology, 18(2):20-35. 

McDonald, M. R. 1998. Traditional Storytelling Today: An International Sourcebook. 

Porter, B. 2005. Digitales: The art of telling digital stories. Denver: Colorado, USA: Bernajean Porter Consulting. Retrieved from http://www.digitales.us/ 

Robin, B. 2008. Digital storytelling: A powerful technology tool for the 21st century classroom. Theory Into Practice, 47:220-228. 

Roby, T. 2010. Opus in the classroom: Striking CoRDS with content-related digital storytelling. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 10(1):133-144. 

Sadik, A. 2008. Digital Storytelling: A meaningful technology-integrated approach for engaged student learning. Educational Technology Research and Development56(4):487-506.

Wawro, L. 2012. Digital storytelling. Children & Libraries: The Journal of the Association for Library Service to Children, 10(1):50. 

Williams, M., Burden, R. L. 1997. An introduction to educational psychology: behaviourism and cognitive psychology. In: M. Williams & R. L. Burden (Eds). Psychology for Language Teachers. New York: Cambridge University Press. 21. 

Williams, M., Burden, R. L. 1997. What makes a person want to learn? Motivation in language learning. In: M. Williams & R. L. Burden (Eds). Psychology for Language Teachers. New York: Cambridge University Press. 120. 

Yang, Y. C. & Wu, W. I. 2012. Digital storytelling for enhancing student academic achievement, critical thinking and learning motivation: A yearlong experimental study. Computers in Education. Retrieved from 



Early Reading Comprehension

Reading to

Essential preschool foundation skills for early reading comprehension entails that the child / learner:

  • draw conclusions regarding the events in a story that suggests that the child / learner understand the events,
  • further devise and apply the events in a story in his / her own experiences,
  • are guided to make inferences about the story through literal and inferential questions posed by the reader (Van Kleeck 2008: 627-664). 

To draw conclusions in a story is the core of reading comprehension. It is proved that if a learner experiences problems with inferencing, he will have problems with reading comprehension (Cain & Oakhill, 1999:698).



Cain, K. & Oakhill, J. 1999. Inference making and its relation to comprehension failure. Reading and Writing, 11:489-698.

Van Kleeck, A. 2008. Providing preschool foundations for later reading comprehension: The importance of and ideas for targetting Inferencing in storybook-sharing Interventions. Psychology in the Schools, 45 (7):627-664.

The natural developmental pattern of the learn-to-read process

Children do not learn to read for the first time when they receive formal training at school (Lancaster, 2003:5; Hill & Launder, 2010:241). Young children (1-2 years), engage in visual and graphic representation of meaning for example, the letters on food wrappers, toys, clothing, billboards, signage and television. Furthermore children ask questions, parents talk to their children, read to them, tell stories and sing to them or let them listen to songs. Thereby they hear various sounds and start magically identifying letters in a spontaneous way.

The natural developmental pattern of the learn-to-read process is further endorsed by Hill en Launder’s (2010:241) opinion that reading development is supported by oral language skills. Oral language skills serve as the foundation for the learn-to-read process because toddlers draw knowledge of the meaning of combined sentences and sounds he / she hears (Saracho & Spodek, 2007:1).

Research indicates (Hill & Launder, 2010:241; Bradley & Bryant 1983:419–421) that there is a strong link between phonological awareness (sound structure) and the ability to learn to read and spell. It was found that learners’ phonological awareness especially rhyming and alliteration, has a powerful effect in terms of the ultimate success in learning to read. The reason is that learners draw conclusions about the links between writing and the sound itself.

It is valuable to talk to a child, but the regular telling of stories, rhymes and singing of songs is essential, because that is where oral language skills and phonological awareness develop especially through the effect of rhyme and alliteration.

The emergence of literacy from birth (Emergent Literacy) is the basis for the development of conventional reading and writing skills in Gr.1 (Morrow et al., 2011: 69; Justice et al, 2003:320).


Bradley, L. & Bryant, P. E. 1983. Categorizing sounds and learning to read – a causal connection. Nature, 301:419–421.

Hill, S. & Launder, N. 2010. Oral language and beginning to read. Australian Journal of Language & Literacy, 33 (3):240-254.

Justice, L. M., Chow, S., Capellini, C., Flanigan, K. & Colton, S. 2003. Emergent literacy intervention for vulnerable preschoolers: Relative effects of two approaches. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 12:320–332.

Lancaster, L. 2003. Moving into Literacy: How it all begins. In: N. Hall., J. Larson., J. Marsh (reds.). Handbook of Early Childhood Literacy. London: SAGE. 3-10.

Morrow, M. L., Tracey, D. H. & Del Nero, J. R. 2011. Best practices in early literacy preschool, kindergarten and first grade. In: L. M. Morrow & L. B. Gambrell (reds.). Best Practices in Literacy Instruction. New York: Guilford Press. 67-93.

Saracho, O. & Spodek, B. 2007. Oracy: Social facets of language learning. Early Child Development and Care, 177 (6–7):695–705.