HCII PhD Thesis Proposal: Understanding and Scaffolding Parental Support for Children’s Early Literacy in Rural Communities in Côte d’Ivoire

Michael Madaio

Wednesday, January 16, 2019 - 10:00am
Gates-Hillman Center 4405
Thesis Committee:
Amy Ogan, HCII, CMU (Co-Chair)
Justine Cassell, LTI, CMU (Co-Chair)
Ken Koedinger, HCII, CMU
Neha Kumar, Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, School of Interactive Computing (Georgia Institute of Technology)

Parents and adult caregivers play crucial roles in supporting children's literacy at home, but in low-resource, developing contexts, parents may lack sufficient literacy to provide the most effective support. As mobile devices become increasingly ubiquitous across developing regions, such as Côte d’Ivoire, they have the potential to augment children's home literacy environments. However, existing approaches have primarily been designed for children as the sole users, without designing to support parental engagement, particularly for low-literate adults

In the first stages of this thesis, I have conducted two studies as part of a design-based research process to understand how low-literate parents and caregivers support their children's literacy development in rural communities in Côte d'Ivoire. Our first study used interviews, storyboards, and prototyping methods to understand the beliefs and preferences of rural Ivorian parents for French literacy and mobile learning. Then, in the second study, we deployed an early version of a voice- and SMS-based early literacy system using low-cost mobile phones with families in one village in Côte d'Ivoire, to understand how children would use the system and how their parents would support their children without explicit scaffolds

In my proposed work, I plan to deploy and evaluate the impact of a voice- and SMS-based literacy system that provides scaffolds for parental support for children's early literacy, designed based on findings and implications surfaced from the first two studies. I plan to conduct a randomized controlled trial in schools in several villages in rural Côte d'Ivoire for four months, using mixed-methods approaches to understand families’ usage of the system and contextualize its impact on learning. Through this iterative design-based research process, this thesis intends to contribute to research at the intersection of the learning sciences, human-computer interaction, and technology for development, by producing empirical, theoretical, and design contributions



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