Methods

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Data Collection, Phase One (1992-1996)

Data Collection, Phase Two (2000-2004)

Data Analysis

 

Data Collection, Phase One (1992-1996):
Carlene videotaping in a preschool classroom

In 1992, researchers began collaborating with teachers and staff at Kendall Demonstration Elementary School (KDES) where several preschool teachers were using ASL and written English as primary languages of the classroom. Our goal was to document and describe the sociocultural context of and individual pathways to ASL-English biliteracy for deaf children from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. The KDES preschool classrooms were advantageous as a research site since we were particularly interested in understanding the potential of this pedagogical approach for the acquisition of ASL and English literacy in a diverse group of children. We wanted to study (1) highly motivated teachers who had adopted this approach to teaching because it made sense to them, not because it had been imposed upon them by others, (2) deaf and hearing teachers who worked together as equals and who demonstrated a high degree of proficiency in ASL, and (3) teachers who were enthusiastic about participating in the research as teacher-researchers and collaborators, as interested in reflecting on their practice and the progress of their students as we were to document it. In addition, the students in these classrooms came from diverse backgrounds, including those with Deaf parents and ASL in the home, those with hearing parents (signers and non-signers), and children from underserved minorities. Because we were interested in documenting the earliest stages of ASL and English literacy acquisition in order to understand how the best foundation for academic achievement could be built, we wanted to collect data on the youngest children in school.

Two teacher/researchers reviewing classroom videotapes

Classroom data collection, consisting of biweekly video recordings, teacher interviews, participant-observation, and gathering of background information from school records, began in 1994. (Resource limitations prevented us from collecting home data as planned.) Our approach to data collection in the classroom was as comprehensive as possible without sacrificing the quality of the video image. When studying sign language discourse, the video image must be framed so that it includes all articulators (face, body, hands) and referents (objects and people indexed by the signer) and be large enough and of high enough quality to perceive relevant detail. Since young children and their teachers are rarely stationary during classroom activities, and because we did not want to pre-determine learning contexts to be studied, we attempted to videotape all children and adults in every classroom activity from the beginning of the school day until lunch time, on a biweekly schedule. We reasoned that this schedule, expecting there would be absences, would result in monthly videorecordings of each child, at a minimum. We followed a core group of 14 children longitudinally for three years with a total classroom data set of 60 children, 12 teachers (7 hearing and 5 deaf), and 6 aides (5 deaf and 1 hearing). The children ranged in age from one to five years, 27 were African-American, 22 had deaf parents, 1 was a Latina whose family’s home language was Spanish, 1 child was from an Arabic-speaking family, and the remaining 9 children were European-American from hearing families. Of the 14 children followed longitudinally for three years, 4 were African-American, 8 were European-American with deaf parents, 1 was from an Arabic-speaking family, and 1 was European-American with hearing parents.

Teacher/researchers analyzing data

In 1996-1997 (FY97), the development of a data base tool and preparation of video data for analysis began but for the following two years due to University restructuring analysis of the classroom data was suspended. In December 1999 (FY2000), an agreement between The Clerc Center and Academic Affairs resulted in a renewed commitment to the analysis of the preschool videotapes and the design of Phase Two data collection. Work on the data base tool (Video Portfolio) resumed in 2000.

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Data Collection, Phase Two (2000-2004)

After discussions during the fall of 1999 between university researchers and administrators at the Clerc Center, an agreement was reached regarding the continuation of the longitudinal project. Phase Two follow-up data collection would be based upon a case study approach, relying on theoretical sampling of the students who were videotaped during the first phase of the study to guide us in the selection of six children for in-depth and longitudinal study. Focal children (FCs) met the following criteria:

  1. African-American deaf student with hearing parents who sign
  2. African-American deaf student with hearing parents who don’t sign
  3. Latina deaf student, Spanish spoken in home
  4. Euro-American deaf student with deaf parents, reading at or above grade level
  5. Euro-American deaf student with hearing parents who sign, reading at or above grade level
  6. Euro-American deaf student with deaf parents, with a known disability

Rita discussing the reading process

Data collection for each of the six target children includes (1) participant-observation in FC classrooms, (2) interviews of parents, and teachers and other educators who were involved with the FC since the conclusion of data collection in the original study, (3) document reviews, and (4) guided literacy sessions with each FC conducted by SOL researchers. The guided sessions have been designed with these research questions in mind:

  1. What strategies and skills does the FC utilize to construct meaning during the reading and writing process?
  2. What metacognitive behaviors does the FC utilize to guide the construction of meaning during the reading and writing process?
  3. What affective attributes does the FC bring to the reading and writing process?
  4. How does the FC use ASL for meaning making when involved in literacy-related processes and dialogue?
  5. How does the FC use ASL for meaning making when involved in discourse with others in social and academic contexts?

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Data Analysis

Video Portfolio: Innovative Software for Ethnographic Analysis of Video and Text Data

The Signs of Literacy group uses videotaping extensively in its studies of social interaction and language use among deaf children, their teachers and parents. Using three cameras we are able to capture both the overall setting and close-up views of signers as they engage in learning activities within classrooms and homes. In addition to thousands of hours of videotape we also collect interviews, field notes, school records, and samples of children's work. To solve the daunting technical challenge in working with such voluminous data, Gallaudet University is developing a custom software tool called “Video Portfolio.” This software enables researchers to link any video segment to an array of written records, to retrieve by precise time code or search engine, to conduct multi-level analyses of the activities and embedded interactions, and to do descriptive, categorical, or analytic work individually or as a team together with Clerc teachers and GU students.

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