ONE STORY AT A TIME: STUDYING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF A STORYTELLING/STORY-ACTING INTERVENTION ON PRESCHOOL CHILDREN’S SCHOOL READINESS SKILLS IN TWO RURAL UGANDAN COMMUNITY LIBRARIES
This study was initially funded by the Fulbright Commission in 2014, and as of August 2021, continues to operate out of the Kabubbu Community Library in rural Uganda.
The research project is aimed at exploring the impact of two rural village libraries in Uganda on preschool children’s school readiness skills (emergent literacy, receptive vocabulary, and theory of mind). Using two rural village libraries in Uganda (Mpigi Community Library in Mpigi and Kabubbu Community Library in Kabubbu) as a backdrop, this study explored the effectiveness of a six-month play-based intervention known as the Storytelling/Story-Acting (STSA) activity. Children ages 3 to 5 at each library were randomly assigned to participate in either the STSA intervention (n = 63) or a story-reading activity (n = 60) for one hour twice per week for six months. With the aid of translators, all children were administered an emergent literacy measure (knowledge of colors, letters, numbers/counting, sizes and comparisons, and shapes), a receptive vocabulary measure, and a theory of mind measure (along with other instruments) before and after the six-month intervention. These tasks were selected because they are easy to administer and do not depend heavily on expressive vocabulary skills. Children who participated in the STSA intervention had higher scores on the colors subtest of the emergent literacy measure than children who did not participate in this activity. When examining both groups together (N = 121 post-intervention), only girls who scored low on a baseline measure of receptive vocabulary ability showed improvement at post-intervention. Boys who initially scored low showed no improvement. We argue that preschool girls with poor receptive vocabulary skills might show more improvement with the STSA activity than preschool boys with similarly poor skills because preschool boys might have lower emotional investment in an activity that includes telling and acting out stories than preschool girls do.
"A mother and father had a child and they sent her to the bore hole to fetch water, they sent her to the shop to buy tomatoes, cooking oil and onions. They prepared posho (corn bread) and they did not keep some for the father, when father returned home, he asked why they didn’t keep some food for him."
"There once was Babirye and Waswa, mother told Babirye to go bring tea leaves, Waswa went to the river. When Babirye came back, they told her to go fetch water. Their father came back with bread. Babirye was sent to bring sugar and Waswa went back to fetch water from the well. "
"There lived a woman who was soon giving birth, a nurse enabled her through and after she went back home and cooked food. After she told them to prepare the beans such that she comes back when they are ready. The children cooked the beans and after they stool them and when their mother came back, she punished them."
These are actual STSA stories told by some of the child participants. These stories were recorded during the 2014 project and were later translated from the original Luganda by a native speaker.
Presentation at the European Conference on Literacy 2017, Madrid, Spain.
Click here for a presentation exploring some initial findings from this study.
Click here for a short video clip about this project.