Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Jacques Lempers


The present study was designed to explore the role that parent-child interactions play in the four areas of emergent literacy: letter knowledge, knowledge about environmental print, knowledge of the purpose and function of print, and story knowledge. It was predicted that parents who engaged in more emergent literacy activities with their children would have children who would score higher on the emergent literacy tasks, that fathers and mothers would differ in the amount and types of emergent literacy behaviors they engage in, and that there would be a significant difference in the type and amount of scaffolding behaviors of parents while engaged in emergent literacy activities with their children. Fifty-six families, father, mother, and four or five-year-old child, participated in the study. Parent-child interaction was video taped while playing in a research room for 15 minutes. Tapes were later scored for the frequency and number of emergent literacy activities and scaffolding behaviors. Parents also responded to three telephone interviews and the children's emergent literacy knowledge was measured. Pearson Product-Moment correlations indicated only limited support for the first prediction that parents who engage in more emergent literacy activities would have children who score higher on emergent literacy tasks. No significant difference was found in mothers' and fathers' observed emergent literacy behaviors, but significant differences were found based on the parents' self reports taken from telephone interviews. Mothers reported engaging in more emergent literacy activities than did fathers. Mothers were found to provide more verbal scaffolding for their children than did fathers. A two way interaction between parent sex and child sex was also found for parents' verbal scaffolding.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Deanna Sue Gilkerson



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

185 pages