Learning to Read in Culturally Responsive
Computer Environments

CIERA Report #1-004

Nichole Pinkard
University of Michigan

CIERA Inquiry 1: Readers and Texts
Can culturally responsive software programs motivate reluctant beginning readers? Can culturally defined oral language skills possessed by African-American children serve as effective bridges to developing early literacy skills?

This report is a description and evaluation of two computer-based learning environments, Rappin' Reader and Say Say Oh Playmate, that build upon the lived literacy experiences African-American children bring to classrooms as scaffolds for early literacy instruction. When Rappin' Reader and Say Say Oh Playmate were used with low-socioeconomic-status African-American first to fourth graders attending after school tutoring/mentoring programs, students made substantial gains on literacy measures such as sight word knowledge. The results suggest at least modest benefits from using culturally responsive reading materials and a computer-based learning environment in literacy instruction.

University of Michigan School of Education

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