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The untapped potential of preschool volunteers (Schmitt & Gillispie, 2020)

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journal contribution
posted on 22.04.2020, 14:45 by Jacqueline Schmitt, Matthew Gillispie
Purpose: This pretest–posttest study examined the effects
of a professional development training on five volunteer
instructors’ (VIs) utilization of language and literacy facilitation strategies within interactive shared book readings with low income preschool children. The training specifically targeted the VIs’ use of wh-questions, expansions, and references to story grammar elements (SGEs) with use of a corresponding visual aid.
Method: VIs participated in a 3-hr training composed of
lecture, video models, role playing, four opportunities to
explicitly practice the target strategies, and four opportunities to receive immediate feedback from the investigators. The VIs led storybook readings that were video-recorded for comparison prior to and after the training sessions (two pretraining, two posttraining). The investigators analyzed the VIs’ language and literacy strategy usage in the readings. The investigators compared the raw number of wh-questions asked, expansions of child responses or comments, the number of references (out of 20) to SGEs, and use of the visual aid pre- and posttraining.
Results: After the training, four of the five VIs increased the
number of wh-questions asked during readings, and one VI
maintained a large number of questions asked, compared to
pretraining readings. All VIs provided an increased number
of references to SGEs (character, setting, problem, fixing
problem, solution) in a variety of capacities (name, definition,
book-specific element, visual aid use) to reinforce narrative
concepts. VIs had inconsistent increases in expansions of
child responses or comments posttraining.
Conclusion: Results revealed the VIs generally increased
their facilitation of language and literacy strategies after
participating in a professional development training,
suggesting utilization of volunteers as instructors may
be a valuable area to explore, especially in low-income
environments where children are at risk for language and
literacy delays.

Supplemental Material S1. Demographic questionnaire.

Supplemental Material S2. Pretraining/posttraining survey.

Supplemental Material S3. Powerpoint training.

Supplemental Material S4. Posttraining reflection.

Schmitt, J., & Gillispie, M. (2020). The untapped potential of preschool classroom volunteers in language– literacy instruction: A feasibility study. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups.