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This dissertation sought to produce and empirically test a theoretical model for the literacy construct of print concepts that would take into account the unique affordances of digital picture books for emergent readers. The author used an exploratory study of twenty randomly selected digital story applications to identify print conventions, text features and book handling methods present across digital picture books which were then mapped against the traditional paper reading experience. Combining study results with existing research in the reading literature, a structural model of digital print concepts as a second order measurement model accounting for five factors of concept of words, directionality, non-alphabetic sign systems, navigation and interactivity was proposed. Next, a static digital story assessment written to parallel Clay’s Concepts About Print instrument was coupled with dynamic assessment for all items addressing novel affordances. This Digital Print Concepts (DPC) assessment was administered to 122 kindergarten students, and dynamic assessment was found to play a role improving student task performance in the short term. The originally proposed theoretical model of digital print concepts did not describe the data well, with item factor analysis revealing that the best fitting model was a freely correlated three-factor model of sign systems, navigation and interactivity.
Advisor: Guy Trainin