Promoting literacy in an after school educational environment: transfer of editing skills

The invention of the personal computer provides researchers with new means for exploring literacy-related issues. This study looked at whether participation in a variety of literacy activities within a recreational computer-mediated setting, known as the Fifth Dimension, correlated with performance on an unfamiliar text editing task. The child participants of the Fifth Dimension take part in multiple activities associated with literacy skill acquisition and practice; however there are no specific editing exercises or games offered. Specifically, this study investigated whether the general literacy skills exercised in this environment transfered to an editing task that was novel to the participants. Predictions included that the Fifth Dimension participants who attended more sessions would perform significantly better on the editing task than those with fewer sessions. Also, it was expected that participants who worked more independently (as scored by adult assistants) and who had more experience with writing letters in the Fifth Dimension would do better on the editing task. Findings showed a significant positive correlation between accuracy scores earned on the novel editing task and the number of Fifth Dimension sessions attended. Correspondingly, at-test on children grouped into low and high Fifth Dimension experience revealed that the group who attended the Fifth Dimension more often earned higher accuracy scores on the editing task than the group with lower attendance. Contrary to predictions, nmp.ber of written letters and amount of independence displayed in the Fifth Dimension did not mediate the relationship between number of sessions attended and accuracy scores. Questionnaire data indicated no evidence that children who came to the Fifth Dimension more often practiced outside literacy activity more often as well On that account, the results seem specific to Fifth Dimension participation.