Date of Conferral
Effective teaching strategies that improve the development of phonemic awareness are important to ensure students are fluent readers by third grade. The use of handheld devices to improve phonemic awareness with kindergarten students may be such a strategy, but no research exists that evaluates the use of these devices. This study explored the effectiveness of Bee-Bot handheld devices in kindergarten classrooms to teach phonemic awareness. A 4-month sequential mixed-methods study was conducted in four classrooms: two that used Bee-Bot handheld devices in phonemic awareness lessons and two that never used the devices. The score gain (Fall 2009 to Winter 2010) for initial sound fluency (ISF) on the DIBELS assessment was analyzed for between-group effects using ANCOVA, controlling for Fall 2009 letter naming fluency (LNF) scores. No significant difference was found between ISF scores of students using the Bee-Bots and those not using them. Interviews of the 4 classroom teachers determined their perceptions of the ways handheld devices supported phonemic awareness. Interviews were coded for (a) assessments, (b) engagement, (c) strategies, (d) social growth and (e) technology standards. Teachers reported that students using Bee-Bot handheld devices remained on task longer, increased motivation, developed leadership skills, and students enjoyed learning with the devices. Findings suggest that handheld devices used to enhance phonemic awareness in kindergarten may offer an engaging way to enhance social skills while providing technology integration. This study contributes to social change by improving teacher knowledge of technology-assisted strategies for social and literacy skills among less advantaged populations.