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Title: A formative study of rhythm and pattern: semiotic potential of multimodal experiences for early years readers
Authors: Peters, J. Beryl
Supervisor: Seifert, Kelvin (Education)
Examining Committee: Enns, Charlotte (Education) Morin, Francine (Education) Scott, Sheila (Music)
Graduation Date: October 2011
Keywords: Arts Education
Early Years Classrooms
Action Research
Design Research
Grounded Theory
Mixed Methods
Transformative Learning
Inclusive Education
English Language Arts
Oral Reading Fluency
Phonological Awareness
Carl Orff
Issue Date: 8-Sep-2011
Abstract: Literacy education defined as the reading and writing of print text is undergoing a paradigmatic shift towards a pedagogy of multiliteracies (Cole & Pullen, 2010). At the same time, demands for rapid, efficient, and accurate reading skills escalate (Katzir et al., 2006) in a global society with increasingly instant and complex literacy requirements. Musical rhythm plays a role in multiliteracy and print literacy learning. Rhythm is essential for music making and reading, and may facilitate print literacy for all children, including those who struggle with traditional print-based teaching and learning. The purpose of this research was to investigate the potential for the semiotic resource of rhythm to engage early years children in print and non-print literacy learning. A twelve week mixed methods quasi-experimental study was conducted to examine the effects of a multimodal Orff-based learning design on elements of reading and rhythm for grades one to three children in four schools. Students (N = 169) from nine classrooms were non-randomly assigned to one of two groups. The researcher instructed both groups two to three times a week totaling twenty-five sessions in each homeroom classroom. The experimental groups participated in Orff-based learning experiences that focused on elements of rhythm and prosodic oral reading fluency. The control group listened to and sang song-storybooks. Beat performance and oral reading rate assessments were administered as pre- and post-tests to each group. Struggling readers in the experimental group significantly improved on measures of oral reading rate compared to struggling readers in the control group using matched pairs t-procedures and analyses of variance. Associations between beat performance and oral reading rate were explored using bivariate and multivariate regression and correlation analysis. A strong positive correlation was found between measures of beat competency and measures of oral reading rate. Qualitative methods using grounded theory, semiotic data analysis, multimodal analysis, action research, and design research methods placed within a bricolage framework (Kincheloe & Berry, 2004) and examined through the lens of complexity thinking (Davis & Sumara, 2006) added multiperspectival meaning-making of data. Findings pointed to the value of multimodal music and rhythm experiences for engaged, deep, meaningful print and non-print learning for diverse individual and classroom collective learners in both control and experimental classrooms. Beat competency was important to both print and music literacy learning in experimental classrooms. Beat experiences were compelling, equitable, and appeared to organize music, oral language, and print literacy into meaningful and accessible patterns and structures. Similar findings may be occasioned through an ontology of multimodal richness, a complex epistemology, embodied ways of knowing and communicating, and systemic shared beliefs and values.
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