PI: Dr. Glenn Smith, Education

Sponsor:Office of Research & Innovation, USF

Recreational reading is vital for students’ educational and professional success (Share, 2008). Yet a literacy crisis has hit the Western world, in which recreational reading plummets starting in 6th grade (Mol & Bus, 2008). This decline of recreational reading may be caused by consumption of computer games and other digital media, which are more reactive than books and have a culture of social interaction. One possible solution is web-based eBooks, combining narrative text and computer games (IMapBooks) developed by Dr. Glenn Smith. IMapBooks have been used as a research tool, for studies in three countries on areas other than literacy. We propose to investigate how web-based eBooks with computer games affect sixth graders’ attitudes towards recreational reading. Since peer social interaction is important in middle school, we will also investigate how secure online social interaction to IMapBooks improves sixth graders attitudes towards reading. Conducting these studies requires critical mass of IMapBooks and secure online social interaction. It is important to investigate if IMapBooks promote reading, and to start bringing IMapBooks into the recreational habits of children. This is important for my research program, and can bring USF into the spotlight for an important new educational medium.