An Examination of Elementary Learners' Transactions with Diverse Children's Books
Tackett, Mary Elizabeth
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This study was designed to explore the transactional relationship between young learners and diverse texts. Students' perceptions toward difference are shaped by prior, lived experiences, and books provide students with virtual experiences of diversity, which can lead to transformative possibilities. This study explored: (1) How can children's picture books about autism be used to create transformative opportunities in an elementary classroom, and (2) What types of responses do primary students have when transacting with children's picture books about autism? Through the use of a formative experiment methodology aligned with Rosenblatt's Transactional Theory of the Literary Work (1978), interventions involving (a) a teacher read aloud, (b) student journal writing, and (c) class discussion allowed second grade students to transact both aesthetically and efferently with diverse texts about autism. Examination of student responses was a qualitative, iterative process that utilized the Constant Comparative method (Strauss and Corbin, 1998), and intervention data was triangulated with researcher field notes and pre and post-intervention student interviews. Analysis led to a deeper understanding of transactional response, including how (a) increasing awareness cultivates deeper connections with diverse texts, (b) prior perceptions and experiences influence evocation and response, and (c) diverse texts provide necessary virtual experiences with diversity. Student responses during transaction also revealed a process of growth in which students oscillated between various levels of introspection by (a) gaining awareness though an insightful view of diversity (developing understanding of difference/defining and explaining autism), (b) reflecting on similarities to gain an understanding of difference (journeying through the text), and (c) using texts as a reflexive tool and gateway toward acceptance (affirming care and responsibility). This study gives insight into how transacting with diverse texts can provide students with opportunities to explore diversity and increase their knowledge and understanding of difference in order to create a more accepting and equitable culture.
- Doctoral Dissertations