Marble-Flint, K. J., Strattman, K. H., & Schommer-Aikins, M. A. (2021). Comprehension scores among young neurotypical children and children with autism: Paper and iPad® storybooks . Journal of Special Education Technology , 36 (4), 311–320. https://doi.org/10.1177/0162643420924197
Marble-Flint, K. J., Strattman, K. H., & Schommer-Aikins, M. A. (2021). Comprehension scores among young neurotypical children and children with autism: Paper and iPad® storybooks. Journal of Special Education Technology, 36(4), 311–320. https://doi.org/10.1177/0162643420924197
Advance online publication (5/14/20)
Three conditions of presenting the storybook were provided: (a) electronic tablet (iPad Air 2) to display storybook, with teacher recorded oral delivery; (b) electronic tablet (iPad Air 2) to display storybook, with text-to-speech (simulated voice) oral delivery; and (c) paper storybook with live in-person teacher oral delivery ("read-aloud").
A total of 30 kindergarten-aged participants (i.e., children aged 4–6) from a metropolitan area in the Midwest (U.S.) participated. Of these 30 children, 15 had autism spectrum disorder and 15 had no neurodivergent disabilities—i.e., identified as "neurotypical peers"; participant groups were "matched" based on aptitude scores on language competence and potential impairments from the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, fourth edition (PPVT-4, Dunn & Dunn, 2007).
Researchers analyzed reading comprehension scores according to a scoring rubric and researcher-developed test with Level 1 and Level 2 questions, developed based on the Preschool Language Assessment Inventory, second edition (PLAI-2; Blank et al., 2003). The reading texts were set to the Shared Reading level, linked to the I Can Read™ storybook series (HarperCollins, 2019). For all three testing conditions, students replied orally to the questions and their answers were video-recorded and documented with researcher notes.
All participants, both with and without autism, performed significantly better when presented the electronic version of the storybook on a digital tablet, in comparison to the display of the storybook in paper format. Further, students did not score differently when the oral delivery was presented on an iPad Air 2 by a human voice recording or by an embedded computerized text-to-speech voice. The kindergarten participants with disabilities did not differentially benefit from the electronic presentation of the text segments in comparison to their peers without disabilities. Limitations of the study were reported, and future research possibilities were suggested.