Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Program Name/Specialization

Developmental Psychology


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Alexandra Gottardo

Advisor Role



As a growing presence in homes and schools, technology plays an important role in the way that children learn in their environment. The early integration of technology within education reflects the promise of computer-based educational tools to facilitate early learning in children (Grant, Wood, Gottardo, Evans, Phillips, & Savage, 2012). Young learners are reported to be challenged with high levels of distractibility that can hinder their ability to learn in particular conditions and contexts (Fisher, Godwin, & Seltman, 2014). This can be a problem when considering that educational materials are often designed to be elaborate to keep young learners interested. For this reason, the present study sought to determine the effect of visually “busy” versus visually “simpler” backgrounds during a video presentation meant to encourage the development of alphabetic knowledge. The participants recruited for this study included 20 preschoolers, 20 children in grade two, and 32 undergraduate students. Participants were presented with unfamiliar letter shapes (Arabic and Hebrew letters) in each of the two video contexts (busy and simpler). In order to test for differences in information retention and possible learning between the two displays, a forced-choice recognition task was used to compare between the two types of screens. To take into account individual differences, participants or their parents completed family literacy and technology use questionnaires, as well as were evaluated on literacy and vocabulary measures. Analyses included correlational analysis, descriptive statistics and multivariate analyses of variance. There was a main effect of age on performance overall. However, there were no significant differences between performance on the simpler and busy conditions for each age group. Lastly, literacy skill, vocabulary skill and technology use did not show significant relationships with performance on the letter learning task.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season