Calvert_etal_2005 - Control as an Engagement Feature for...

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Control as an Engagement Feature for Young Children’s Attention to and Learning of Computer Content SANDRA L. CALVERT BONNIE L. STRONG LIZANN GALLAGHER Georgetown University This article examines a study in which young children were exposed to a computer story that varied the amount of control that children had over the visual and verbal content. Children who controlled the computer demonstrated more attention and involvement than those who watched an adult control the experience. Boys who had an adult control the program were more likely to try to gain control of the activity by making attempts to get the mouse or by ask- ing to change activities. Control, however, had no effect on children’s memory of visual or verbal content. The implication is that control is an engagement feature that has its greatest impact when examining attention and interest, a lesson that may facilitate constructive early adult-child interactions with educational computer software. New interactive media are now integrated into the fabric of children’s daily children are routinely accessible, and promises of enhanced learning from this potential new form of education abound. For young children, this means early computer experiences that focus on preacademic skills, such as prereading activities, can be targeted. Interactivity is highlighted as the mechanism that will enhance children’s attentional interest and learning from the newer media. Interactivity can be defined as an exchange of actions or ideas that builds on previous exchanges 578 Authors’Note: This research was supportedby GrantNo. 0126014from the NationalScienceFoun- dation. We thank the teachers, students, and parents of Washington International School, Horace Mann Elementary School, and the Hoya Early Child Care Center for their assistance with this research. We also thank Sean Zehnder, Edward Gonzales Jr., Alison Kuhl, Katherine Murray, and Emily Conger for their assistance in conducting this research. Requests for reprints should be directedtoSandraL.Calvert,Director,Children’s DigitalMediaCenter,DepartmentofPsychology, 20057; e-mail: AMERICAN BEHAVIORAL SCIENTIST, Vol. 48 No. 5, January 2005 578-589 DOI: 10.1177/0002764204271507 © 2005 Sage Publications
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(Rafaeli, 1988). Interactivity, embedded in human experiences, involves con- In the study conducted here, we examined interactivity in terms of varying degrees of child control of the learning experience. We were interested in how control affected young children’s attention to, and subsequent learning of, visual and verbal content adapted from an online children’s storybook. Our major hypotheses were that personal control would enhance children’s attentional interest in the program but that adult control would enhance chil-
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This note was uploaded on 09/19/2009 for the course PSYCH 2090 taught by Professor Goldstein, m during the Spring '07 term at Cornell University (Engineering School).

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Calvert_etal_2005 - Control as an Engagement Feature for...

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