Date of Award

12-2006

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Major Professor

Thomas N. Turner

Committee Members

Colleen P. Gilrane, Deborah A. Wooten, Edward L. Counts

Abstract

The purpose of this naturalistic case study was to gain understanding about the comprehension strategies successful readers employ as they construct meaning while navigating through postmodem picture books. Participants were eight fourth grade students from a large suburban elementary school in Tennessee. Data included transcripts and field notes from ten individual think aloud sessions and five group book club discussions.

Themes identified from the think aloud sessions related to the ways in which students navigated through postmodem picture books include: emotional responses, general story problem solving and postmodem story problem solving. Themes identified from the group book club discussions related to the ways in which students navigated through postmodem picture books include: aesthetic responses, reflecting on reading behaviors, general story problem solving, and postmodern story problem solving.

A general linear navigation pattern was identified from the think aloud session transcripts which involved encountering metafictive elements, emotional responses and problem solving. Book club discussions, on the other hand, produced a more interactive, dynamic navigation pattern in which participants shared aesthetic responses, reflected on / their own reading behaviors, and spent time problem solving within the postmodem picture book story world. Data revealed that the fourth grade students in this study came to further their understanding of each postmodem picture book through the group book club discussions that followed their individual readings. The choice to explore the phenomenon in two ways, individual think aloud sessions and group book club discussions, proved to be integral in providing a rich description of participants' experience with postmodern picture books.

Literacy in the 21st century means thinking critically, making sense of a bombardment of media sources, negotiating multiple digital literacies, and making choices about what to read and how to go about reading it. The findings from this study indicate that postmodem picture books have great potential to nurture growth in these areas if thoughtfully integrated into the curriculum.

With the insight gained from this study, teachers should be mindful to support and encourage students who might become frustrated as a result of more negative emotional and/or aesthetic responses to postmodem picture books. They can work to facilitate a classroom environment where students feel safe in their comments, questions, and responses during discussions about literature. The classroom environment should be conceptualized as a place where this sort of active engagement is valued and encouraged.

Data from this study revealed the complexity of the ways in which children independently constructed meaning while navigating through postmodem picture books. It is recommended that further studies are conducted in order to provide insight about how students might be supported toward more positive engagements with this emerging genre.

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